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Even Start Facts & Figures
Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs
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Note: More specific information on individual Even Start programs is available from the Programs & Grants page.


FY 2003 Appropriation: $248,375,000

Number of Projects (2003-04)

  • 1,200 State-administered subgrants for local projects
  • 26 Indian projects (Federal direct grants)
  • 17 Migrant projects (Federal direct grants)
  • 0 Statewide Initiative grants (Federal direct grants authorized in years with appropriation increases) -- 36 funded in previous years

Estimated Number of Families Served (2003-04):

  • 50,000 families

Demographic Information (2000-01 program year -- last year with data)

  • 84% at or below the Federal poverty level
  • 84% of parents have no high school diploma or GED
  • 44% of parents have not gone beyond the 9th grade
  • 46% Hispanic
  • 30% White
  • 19% African-American
  • 3% American Indian or Alaskan Native
  • 2% Asian or Pacific Islander
  • 1% from other ethnic/racial groups

No Other Education Program Serves a Comparable Population

  • Even Start families are significantly poorer than Head Start families. In 1997, 41 percent of Even Start families had an annual household income under $6,000 compared with 13 percent of Head Start families.
  • Even Start families are much less likely to be employed than Head Start families -- 16 percent vs. 53 percent in 1997.
  • Even Start parents are far more educationally disadvantaged than Head Start parents. In 1997, 15 percent of Even Start parents had a high school diploma or GED, compared with 72 percent of Head Start parents.
  • Adults in regular adult education programs are not as economically disadvantaged as those in Even Start. Ninety percent of Even Start families are living below the poverty line compared to approximately 25 percent of individuals in regular adult education programs who are on welfare or are classified as working poor.

Effects of Even Start on Parents and Children

  • Participating families consistently make gains each year on literacy measures. However, a recent experimental study showed that Even Start families did not gain more than control group families, many of whom received other early childhood education or adult education services.
  • Although they come from more disadvantaged families and score substantially lower at entry to the program, Even Start children made gains on a measure of receptive vocabulary that were comparable to Head Start children.

Key Reauthorization Changes

(effective beginning with FY 2001, except as otherwise indicated below)

  • Instructional activities must be based on scientifically-based reading research.
  • Stronger staff qualification requirements.
  • Enrichment AND instructional services during the summer months.
  • Projects must build on "high-quality" existing community resources.
  • Projects must use their independent local evaluation for program continuous improvement and improved participant literacy achievement results.
  • States required to submit to U.S. Department of Education their State indicators of program quality by June 30, 2001, and use those indicators to evaluate local projects for the purpose of making continuation funding decisions (indicators are used to monitor, evaluate, and improve local projects).
  • Programs must promote the academic achievement of children and adults.
  • An individual with expertise in family literacy added to the required members of the local application review panel.
  • Minimum subgrant size for subgrantees in the ninth and succeeding years reduced to $52,500.
  • Participating families must be encouraged to attend regularly and remain in the program a sufficient time to meet program goals.
  • Continuity of family literacy services must be promoted, if applicable, to ensure that individuals retain and improve educational outcomes.
  • Equitable participation requirements for school-age private school students applicable to Even Start (beginning FY 2002).
  • Maintenance of effort requirements applicable to Even Start (beginning FY 2002).

Last Modified: 10/24/2014