The federal government invests over $11 billion in early childhood education and care programs. These programs exist to ensure that children from low-income families are better prepared to enter school and that their parents have access to early childhood education and care that allow them to obtain and maintain employment. The federal government invests more in Head Start, which was funded at $6.5 billion in fiscal year 2002, than any other early childhood education and care program. Head Start has served over 21 million children at a total cost of $66 billion since it began. The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions asked GAO to discuss Head Start--how it fits within the array of early childhood education and care programs available to low-income children and their families and what is known about its effectiveness.
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