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Happy Birthday, Head Start

Hackensack, NJ – Fifty-four years ago on May 18, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched Head Start, a program designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their educational, emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. Three years later in 1968, Greater Bergen Community Action (GBCA), the federally-designated anti-poverty agency of Bergen County, New Jersey, formerly known as BCCAP, began operating its federally-funded, free Bergen County Head Start, which later expanded to additional Head Start and Early Head Start programs in the cities of Paterson and Jersey City with the same mission.

In the 1970s, federal legislation enhanced Head Start by requiring parental involvement and that 10% of the slots be made available to children with disabilities. The program continues to retain strong bi-partisan support. For over 54 years, Head Start has had a huge impact on school readiness, academic achievement, health, family stability and long-term success for more than 36 million children.

At GBCA Head Start and Early Head Start, the goal is to not only prepare the children for kindergarten, but to prepare the entire family for life beyond the program. Its extensive services and resources range from early childhood education to health, nutrition, parent education, family counseling, financial counseling, and more. Greater Bergen Community Action works with the local community to provide services that address child-care and family support issues, which enables the staff to help families become self-sufficient.

Enrollment is always open at GBCA’s Head Start and Early Head Start Programs. To apply, please visit


GBCA's Head Start and Early Head Start programs are open to all income eligible families. All services are responsive to each child and family's ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage. GBCA Head Start/Early Head Start families gain easy access to all appropriate services and programs of GBCA, including housing, education and financial/banking resources. For more information or to enroll, go to


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