The History of the Lowndes County Head Start Program
In January of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared "The War on Poverty" in his State of the Union speech. Sergeant Shriver led the War on Poverty program. After his election in November of 1964, President Johnson and Shriver assembled a committee of academic and civil rights activists, which consisted of sociologists, psychologists, and pediatricians who began discussions of a design that intended to assist children overcome setbacks or obstacles caused by poverty. The name of this project was tossed around with "Kiddie Corps" and Baby Corps" surfacing, however, the name Head Start was chosen by academics who understood the achievement gap and that middle class students get ahead of their lower class peers.
In May of 1965, President L. B. Johnson, Shriver and the Office of Economic Opportunity established the Project Head Start program, as it started in the summer of 1965 as an eight-week summer program for children from low-income communities going into public school in the fall. It served over 560,000 children across the United States of America in the first summer and the program provided preschool classes, medical care, dental care, and mental health services.
In the summer program of 1966, Lowndes County Head Start Program had six members on the administrative and non-professional staff. Ten elementary school teachers were sent to Washington, D.C. to be trained to work in the Head Start classroom, along with local in-service training for the aides.
The Lowndes County Head Start Program commenced with an enrollment of 200 children between the ages of five and six, who had never attended school. The program has increased to over 280 three and four years old children with a funding level of over one million dollars.
Furthermore, the program has eleven individual classroom units located on three rural school campuses.