Homeless children and those in unstable living environments who attend Head Start make big social-emotional gains compared to their peers living in stable homes, according to an analysis of Head Start data by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, a non-profit research organization.

Despite these gains, the analysis found that the children who lived in stable homes improved more than homeless children in most measures of health and cognition, so that homeless children enter kindergarten behind others who attend the federal program for low-income children.

The homeless and highly-mobile children in the study were more likely to have a depressed parent, to be overweight and to struggle with early math and literacy skills then their peers living in stable homes. They were also more likely to have a single parent who had not graduated from high school.

Read the Institute’s research brief on homeless children in Head Start.

Lillian Mongeau covers early childhood education. Contact her or follow her @lrmongeau.

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