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Press Release · October 10, 2003

Federal Formula Grants and California: Head Start

Authorization for Head Start —a federal program designed to help prepare low-income preschool children for elementary school — expired on September 30. Congress is currently revising this nearly $7 billion law. Head Start is important to California: In fiscal year 2003, the state will receive nearly 12.3 percent of Head Start funding — more than $800 million.

Federal Formula Grants and California: Head Start examines the mechanics of the formulas that determine funding levels for California and other states, and it analyzes the state-by-state effects of formula-change scenarios. At present, California receives a share of state-level Head Start dollars that closely matches the state’s share of poor preschool-age children. However, if California’s child poverty numbers return to their previous highs — a possibility given the state’s protracted economic downturn — California could soon be faced with the challenge of reconciling need and dollars.

This report is the sixth in an ongoing series reviewing California’s share of federal formula grant programs. The next report in the series will examine formula funding for homeland security programs. The series was developed at the request of the bipartisan leadership of California’s congressional delegation and is produced by PPIC in collaboration with the California Institute for Federal Policy Research.

We hope you find this and future reports valuable, and we welcome your feedback as we seek to improve the public debate regarding this important subject. If you have any questions, please contact us by phone (Abby: 415/291-4436; Victoria: 415/291-4412) or email (; You can reach coauthor Tim Ransdell, Executive Director of the California Institute, at 202/546-3700 or

The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.