Start Early was founded in 1982 as the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a nonprofit public-private partnership. Since the beginning, we have delivered best-in-class doula, home visiting and Early Head Start and Head Start programs and advocated for thoughtful policies and adequate funding at the local, state, and federal levels. From our roots directly serving families and children on Chicago’s South Side and rural Illinois, we have expanded nationwide impacting early childhood programs and policies with partnerships in 25 states. Our role as on-the-ground practitioners continues to be the bedrock of our expertise and source of innovation and leadership in the field.
Our story is focused on the idea that starting early and nurturing the attachments between children and adults are essential to a child’s present and future well-being. Decades of research have proven that quality early childhood programs are a smart investment. Our founder, businessman and philanthropist Irving B. Harris, understood that the best hope for leveling the playing field and allowing children to thrive is to invest in the earliest days and create intensive, long-term support for a developing child and their family.