Early Childhood Education

National Head Start Association (NHSA)


The National Head Start Association (NHSA) is a private, not-for-profit membership organization dedicated exclusively to meeting the needs of Head Start children and their families. The association represents more than 1 million children, 200,000 staff, and 2,700 Head Start programs in the United States.

Project Head Start began as a part of America’s historic War on Poverty in 1965. Within the first ten years, supporters of Head Start had formed four affiliate organizations that represented the needs of Head Start directors, parents, staff, and friends. Directors were the first to unite (1973); they invited parents to develop a parents’ association (1974); and parents, in turn, urged staff to band together (1975). Head Start friends soon followed. Each group had a different perspective but a common mission. On June 7, 1990, the four affiliates united to speak to Congress with one powerful voice. Collectively, the affiliates became The National Head Start Association.

NHSA’s mission is far reaching. The association provides support for the entire Head Start community by advocating for policies that strengthen services to Head Start children and their families; by providing extensive training and professional development to Head Start staff; and by developing and disseminating research, information, and resources that enrich Head Start program delivery.

From planning massive training conferences to conducting research and publishing a vast array of publications, including the award-winning Children and Families magazine and the peer-reviewed research journal, Dialog, NHSA is educating early childhood professionals. NHSA led the way with distance training through its satellite television network, Heads Up!, and the NHSA Academy offers college credit through self-study and off-site courses.

NHSA’s 130,000 active members represent Head Start agencies; state and regional associations; commercial and nonprofit organizations; and individual parents, staff, and friends. NHSA has successfully defended the First Amendment rights of Head Start parents and staff, launched major voter registration campaigns, and proved through scientific research that Head Start increases the well-being and likelihood of success for the nation’s underprivileged children and their families.

Further Readings: Children and Families: the Magazine of the National Head Start Association is published quarterly by the National Head Start Association. 1651 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. ISSN-7578; NHSA Dialog is a peer-reviewed research journal published annually by the National Head Start Association. 1651 Prince Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. ISSN 1089-2583.

Elizabeth Kane