Head Start, U.S. educational program for disadvantaged preschool children, established under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Aimed initially only at poor children, its purpose was to organize programs that would prepare preschool children for elementary school. Money was appropriated through the Office of Economic Opportunity, which made individual grants to cities and other localities to set up Head Start centers. In 1969 the program was transferred to the Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare (now Health and Human Services). It was later extended to children above the poverty level, whose parents, however, had to pay according to their income.