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Targeting in Head Start: Which strategies improve equity and efficiency?

Using data from the HSIS, this paper examines whether targeting can improve the efficiency of Head Start and assesses the distributional consequences of different targeting strategies. I first assess whether prioritizing enrollment based on a child's likelihood of otherwise attending home- or center-base care, or based on the age at which a child enters Head Start, affects efficiency and equity. I then examine whether additional child and family characteristics might predict variations in Head Start's impacts by modeling treatment heterogeneity, and simulate the impacts of targeting strategies based on these characteristics on the efficiency and equity of Head Start. I find that targeting in Head Start can significantly raise average program impacts, but that some targeting strategies also have undesirable distributional consequences. Specifically, targeting Head Start enrollment towards entering 4 year-olds who are otherwise likely to receive home-based care achieves the largest efficiency gains, but has the undesirable result of decreasing the enrollment of African American children. Further prioritizing the enrollment of children from the most disadvantaged households, however, can eliminate this racial disparity while also maintaining efficiency gains. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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