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War On Poverty Essay

4030 words - 17 pages

More children are living below the poverty line in America today than when the war on poverty began almost fifty years ago. Despite consistent efforts by the government, nonprofit organizations, and the people themselves, poverty rates in 2012 are very similar to the early 1960s. Social security and Medicaid have reduced the number of seniors living in poverty, but the plight of children has worsened. Several factors have contributed to this problem. As measured by inflation adjusted dollars, wages of low-skill jobs have declined. The number of families headed by unmarried mothers has risen, and large numbers of immigrants with little education have entered the U.S. The combination of ...view middle of the document...

The program provided breakfast in school, teaching assistants, as well as involving parents. This opportunity promoted learning, social and emotional growth in the classroom, as well as activities involving the home and community. Approximately 1,200 children went through from 1961 to 1969. The Harlem preschool became the forerunner of the Head Start program.
Three years after the preschool project in Harlem, research at the Office of Economic Opportunity showed that half of our nation’s children were poor, and that six million of these children were under the age of six. Something significant needed to be done, and the OEO had over $100 million of appropriation from the Community Action Program with no spending plan. Children from low-income families were entering school already behind their peers from the middle-class, and the gap widened as they progressed into higher grades. A committee of teachers, doctors, social workers, and psychologists formulated a plan to give low-income children a “ running head start” on kindergarten. The program encompassed far more than teaching pre-writing and pre-math. It was a bold initiative to break the cycle of poverty that focused on positive motivation, medical and dental care, and other aspects of child development. Head Start would also have strong parent and community volunteer involvement. Twelve weeks after the conception of Head Start, the summer program rolled out with half a million six year olds in almost 300 communities, and by the end of that 8 week program, over $50 million had been invested. The concept was received with enthusiasm from the Johnson administration and throughout the nation. Head Start was transformed into a full year program with a budget of $357 million and a mandate to provide comprehensive health, nutritional, social, educational and mental health services to children ages 3 through 5, as well as listening to the needs of families and finding resources to help them. In 1967 amendments to the Economic Opportunity Act added a Follow Through to Head Start that provided support to Head Start children through the early grades of elementary school. In her testimony to the U.S. Senate in 1967, Mary Edelman described this poverty program in Mississippi saying, “for the first time poor people are participating” in “an atmosphere where they could help their children and help themselves.”
Head Start is an early and enduring example of the cooperation between government and private nonprofits to improve the social welfare of our country. It is currently comprised of six types of organizations, including community action agencies (35%), private nonprofits (28%), public schools (19%), local governments (8%), and religious organizations (5%). However, during the late sixties and early seventies, Head Start faced political obstacles as well as turf battles over whether it was an anti-poverty program sponsored by the Community Action Program, or an early education program...

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