USC Head Start Study 2023

Head Start California worked with graduate students at the University of Southern California, Sol Price School of Public Policy on their capstone research project focused on Head Start awareness and supply/demand in California. HSC provided guidance and advisory support to the team throughout the research process, which took place from August 2022 to May 2023.

The study aimed to explore two key aspects:

1) the extent to which the supply of Head Start services meets the estimated demand and

2) the extent to which Head Start-eligible families in California are aware of Head Start.

The study also sought to test the hypothesis that Head Start is a “well-kept secret” among eligible families in California and identify factors that influence parental ECE decision-making.

The research was conducted through two primary methods: survey analysis and spatial (mapping) analysis. While we believe the survey findings are valuable to all Head Start programs, the spatial analysis comparing Head Start supply and demand will be particularly interesting to those operating in the following ten counties where the spatial analyses were conducted:

  • Fresno
  • Kern
  • Los Angeles
  • Merced
  • Monterey
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Joaquin
  • Stanislaus
  • Tulare

For these ten counties, the data will be most valuable to those programs facing higher demand-to-supply ratios and encountering challenges such as limited access or increased competition within specific census tracts.

View the results and resources here:


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