Increasing Access to Head Start Through Text Messages

In this experimental study researchers in New Orleans investigate the role of text message reminders in influencing Head Start program verification rates. After applying to a publicly funded Head Start program, parents must verify their eligibility for that program. This verification step is often missed, leading to lost enrollment opportunities. The authors employ a controlled comparison between applicants receiving formal text reminders, personalized reminders, and no reminders, in addition to the district’s usual, modest level of communications. The results show a noticeable increase in eligibility verification rates among those who received extra reminders, underscoring the effectiveness of direct communication in facilitating program applications. Despite these gains, Head Start applicants' verification rates remained lower than those for pre-K applicants under similar conditions. This outcome highlights the potential of text messaging as a tool to improve access to early childhood education programs. This study was conducted by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans.

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