Missouri Ozarks Community Action (MOCA) Head Start announced the commencement of Head Start Awareness Month. Rolla's Mayor Louis Magdits stopped by Rolla's Head Start to sign a proclamation observing the month in Rolla, and read to the children.

MOCA Head Start and Early Head Start join other programs across the country to celebrate Head Start’s 55th year in October and to strengthen the nation’s awareness of the Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Created in 1965, Head Start is the longest-running, national child development program in the United States. It provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition and parent engagement services to low-income children and their families. 

Head Start’s history spans a riveting period in the United States. Rooted in the civil rights movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s, Head Start was part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. Head Start was designed to help end poverty by providing pre-school children from low-income families with a program that would meet emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. 

Understanding some of the history of Head Start provides insights into why Head Start is today the leading model for early childhood education. It was President Ronald Reagan who proclaimed October as Head Start Awareness Month on Oct. 22, 1982. Early Head Start, in 1994, was established to serve infants and toddlers under the age of three and pregnant women.

Head Start families have long recognized the positive influence the program has on their children. On average, Head Start graduates rank higher in language, literacy, social conduct and physical development than their non-Head Start peers. Head Start children are also significantly more likely to complete high school and attend college than those who did not participate in the program. With more than 25 million alumni to date, Head Start is making a positive impact on the lives of the low-income children and families across the country. 

Head Start programs in years past have sponsored a number of activities throughout October. Among these activities are children’s parades and festivals, on-site open house, special exhibits and community conferences. Not only are such activities an excellent way to showcase the center and its children, but they also raise community awareness of the Head Start cause. 

MOCA Head Start and Early Head Start Central Office is located in Richland, Missouri. It currently provides services to 468 children and their families throughout eight counties — Phelps, Pulaski, Maries, Miller, Gasconade, Laclede, Crawford and Camden. 

The mission of MOCA Head Start is “to prepare children and develop partnerships with families and communities to enhance the quality of life.”