In order to keep our competitive edge in today’s knowledge-based economy, the next generation must have the skills, knowledge and dispositions to create and sustain new forms of enterprise. Communities where all children enter kindergarten ready to learn are best positioned to thrive in the 21st century. Research shows that 85 percent of brain development occurs before age 3, and growth is particularly affected by the quality of children’s home and educational learning environments. This research has special implications for those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are exposed to an estimated 30 million fewer words than their economically advantaged peers (Hart & Risley, 2003). Nobel-laureate economist James J. Heckman (2012) estimated that for “every dollar spent on high quality, birth-to-5 programs for disadvantaged children delivers a 13 percent per annum return on investment over the course of a lifetime.”

PINELLAS COUNTY -- Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy Lydia Lang-Royal has built a bond with the kids at the Rainbow Village Head Start Center in Largo. It’s part of Lutheran Services Florida.

“Pete the cat was walking down the street in his brand new white shoes. Pete loved his white shoes,” Lang-Royal reads to the kids. 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Lutheran Services Florida organization believes that every child deserves the best start in life, no matter their circumstances. It’s the driving force behind the organization’s Head Start program., which is now accepting applications for enrollment. 

The first five years of a child’s life are essential in getting them ready for a happy, healthy and successful future. LaTanya Wynn-Hall with Lutheran Services of Florida said Head Start works to offer the highest quality early educational services across the state of Florida, especially in communities that are traditionally underserved.