Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), United States, 2014-2017 (ICPSR 36643)

Version Date: Oct 21, 2020 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation.



Version V6 ()

  • V6 [2020-10-21]
  • V5 [2020-03-26] unpublished
  • V4 [2019-04-25] unpublished
  • V3 [2018-06-01] unpublished
  • V2 [2018-02-15] unpublished
  • V1 [2017-04-14] unpublished
FACES 2014

The 2014 Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey, or FACES 2014, is the sixth in a series of national studies of Head Start, with earlier studies conducted in 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, and 2009. This release includes nationally representative samples of Head Start programs and centers, classrooms, children and their families through spring of 2017. Data from surveys of Head Start program and center directors, classroom teachers, and parents provided descriptive information about program policies and practices, classroom activities, and the background and experiences of Head Start staff and families. Classroom observations were used to assess the quality of Head Start classrooms. Children in the study participated in a direct assessment that provided a picture of their school readiness skills at different time points.

FACES 2014 used a new study design that differs from earlier rounds of FACES in several important ways: (1) it included larger program and classroom samples, (2) all data were collected in a single program year, (3) the baseline sample of children included both children enrolled in their first and second year of Head Start, and (4) several special studies were conducted along with the main (Core) study to collect more detailed information about a given topic, to study new populations of Head Start programs and participants, and to evaluate measures for possible use in future rounds of FACES. For example, the Family Engagement Plus study collected information from parents and staff (teachers and family services staff) on family engagement efforts and service provision in Head Start programs.

The Office of Head Start, the Administration for Children and Families, other federal agencies, local programs, and the public have depended on FACES for valid and reliable national information on (1) the skills and abilities of Head Start children, (2) how Head Start children's skills and abilities compare with preschool children nationally, (3) Head Start children's readiness for and subsequent performance in kindergarten, and (4) the characteristics of the children's home and classroom environments. The FACES study was designed to enable researchers to answer a wide range of research questions that are crucial for aiding program managers and policymakers. Some of the questions that are central to FACES include:

  1. What are the demographic characteristics of the population of children and families served by Head Start? How has the population served by Head Start changed?
  2. What are the experiences of families and children in the Head Start program? How have they changed?
  3. What are the cognitive and social skills of Head Start children at the beginning and end of the program year? Has Head Start program performance improved over time?
  4. What are the qualifications of Head Start teachers in terms of education, experience, and credentials? Are average teacher education levels rising in Head Start?
  5. What is the observed quality of Head Start classrooms as early learning environments, including the level and range of teaching and interactions, provisions for learning, emotional and instructional support, and classroom organization? How has quality changed over time?
  6. What program- and classroom-level factors are related to observed classroom quality?
  7. How is observed quality related to children's outcomes and developmental gains?

The User Guide provides detailed information about the FACES 2014 study design, execution, and data to inform and assist researchers who may be interested in using the data for future analyses. The following items are provided in the User Guide as appendices.

  • Appendix A - Elements Of The FACES Design And Key Measures Used (And Child Outcomes Captured): FACES 1997 - FACES 2014
  • Appendix B - Copyright Permissions
  • Appendix C - Instrument Content Matrices
  • Appendix D - Instruments
  • Appendix E - Spring 2015 Center/Program Codebook
  • Appendix F - Spring 2015 Classroom/Teacher Codebook
  • Appendix G - 2014-2015 Child Codebook
  • Appendix H - Spring 2015 Family Engagement Family Service Staff Interview Codebook
  • Appendix I - Spring 2015 Family Engagement Parent Interview Codebook
  • Appendix J - Spring 2017 Center/Program Codebook
  • Appendix K - Spring 2017 Classroom/Teacher Codebook
  • Appendix L - Descriptions of Constructed/Derived Variables
  • Appendix M - Synthetic Estimation for Child Growth Across Two Years

United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), United States, 2014-2017. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2020-10-21. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36643.v6

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (HHSP23320095642WC/HHSP23337052T)


This data collection may not be used for any purpose other than statistical reporting and analysis. Use of these data to learn the identity of any person or program is prohibited. To protect respondent privacy, the FACES 2014 data are restricted from general dissemination. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reason for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
2014 -- 2017 (Head Start Program Years 2014-2017)
2014 (Fall), 2015 (Spring), 2017 (Spring)
  1. Project Officers:

    The Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey would like to acknowledge Maria Woolverton and Mary Mueggenborg's roles as the ACF Project Officers.

    Project Director:

    Lizabeth Malone, Ph.D. (Mathematica Policy Research)

    Principal Investigators:

    Louisa Tarullo, Ph.D. and Nikki Aikens, Ph.D. (Mathematica Policy Research)


    Juárez and Associates, Inc. assisted in collecting data for FACES 2014. Psychometric support was provided by Educational Testing Service.


    Margaret Burchinal and Martha Zaslow.

    Additional Resources:

    Reports based on this data collection are available at the Administration for Children and Families web site.

  2. For additional information on the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) study, please visit the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation website.

A comprehensive redesign of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) study took place in 2011, where researchers determined that FACES must be a vehicle that provides timely and ongoing information about Head Start program performance, including program improvement efforts, program quality, and outcomes for children and families. Therefore, FACES 2014 adhered to a Core Plus study design that consisted of a core set of data collection activities to capture key characteristics and indicators related to programs, classrooms, and child outcomes. In addition, topical modules or special studies, known as the Plus studies, allowed FACES to respond flexibly to new policy and programmatic issues and questions and to address in greater depth topics in the Core studies.

The two Core studies of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) 2014 study are the Classroom + Child Outcomes Core and the Classroom Core. The Classroom + Child Outcomes Core study took place in fall and spring of the 2014-2015 Head start year. At both time points, FACES assessed the school readiness skills of more than 22,000 Head Start children from 60 programs, surveyed their parents, and asked the children's teachers to rate children's social and emotional skills, approaches to learning, and problem behaviors. In spring 2015, the number of programs in the FACES sample increased from the 60 that were visited to collect data on children's school readiness outcomes to 176 programs for the purpose of conducting observations in 667 Head Start classrooms. Surveys of program directors, center directors, and teachers in all 176 programs also took place in the spring. Therefore, the Classroom + Child Outcomes Core collected child-level data along with program- and classroom-/teacher-level data from 60 programs, but only program- and classroom-/teacher-level data were collected from the additional 116 programs. Together, the program- and classroom-/teacher-level data across the 176 programs represented the first round of the Classroom Core conducted in spring 2015. In spring 2017, researchers conducted the second round of the Classroom Core. For the 2017 round, researchers updated the sample of programs to ensure that it was nationally representative of all Head Start programs at that time. In spring 2017, 178 programs participated in the study.

FACES 2014 also included five Plus studies: (1) the Family Engagement Plus study, (2) the Five Essentials Measurement System for Early Education Educator Survey Pilot study (5E-Early Ed Educator Survey Pilot Study), (3) the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey, (4) a Plus topical module on programs' perspectives on the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS Plus module), and (5) a Plus topical module on program functioning using the Early Education Essential Organizational Supports measurement system (Early Ed Essentials Plus module). Additional study design information for the Core and Plus studies can be found in Chapter I of the User's Manual.

The sample is a multi-stage sample, with the first two of four stages (programs and centers) being selected with probability proportion to size (based on number of classrooms). Classrooms (stage three) and children (stage four) were sampled with equal probability. A total of 180 programs were selected, 60 of which included child-level data collection in fall 2014. In all 180 programs, an average of two centers and two classrooms in each center were selected. Within the 60 programs with child-level data collection, approximately 12 children were selected in each classroom to yield 10 participating children. Additional sampling was done to support the family engagement study in spring 2015. In spring 2017, the sample of programs was updated to ensure that it was nationally representative of all Head Start programs at that time. A description of the sample designs for the Core data collection and the family engagement study is found in Chapter II of the User's Manual.


The Head Start programs participating in FACES 2014 were a probability sample selected from among 2,900 study-eligible programs on the 2012-2013 Head Start Program Information Report (PIR) (the 2012-2013 PIR was used for the 2014-2015 sample and the 2014-2015 PIR was used for the 2017 sample). To be eligible for the study, a program had to be in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, be providing services directly to children ages 3 to 5, and not be in imminent danger of losing its grantee status. Furthermore, programs under the Migrant and Seasonal Worker program or American Indian and Alaska Native program were not eligible. Probability samples of centers were selected within each program, classrooms within each center, and children within each classroom. Teachers associated with selected classrooms were included in the study with certainty, as were parents associated with selected children. Family service staff in the 60 programs with child-level data collection were selected for the family engagement study. See Chapter II of the User's Manual for more information on the FACES 2014 samples.

Head Start Family Service Staff, Head Start children (and their families), Head Start Center/Program, Head Start Classroom/Teacher

In the FACES 2014 study, there were high participation rates at each level and each time point of data collection with a few exceptions. Ninety-percent of programs selected agreed to participate. In fall 2014, 90 percent of the sampled programs with child-level data collection participated in the study and parent consents were received for 93 percent of the children who were sampled. Cooperation rates for the child assessments and teacher child reports were 95 and 98 percent, respectively. Cooperation rates for spring 2015 were 95 and 96 percent for the same instruments. More than 90 percent of teachers, center directors, and program directors completed surveys in both spring 2015 and spring 2017. Core parent survey completion rates were lower than expected for a given wave, but 85 percent of children selected in the fall had at least one parent survey. For the family engagement study, there was a target goal of a certain number of completed parent and family service staff interviews. The response rate was 80 percent for family service staff interview but lower for parents. A non-response bias analyses, which examined a range of variables, found few significant differences between respondents and non-respondents, and those differences were generally resolved with non-response adjustments to the sampling weights. Please consult Chapter IV of the User's Manual for more details on response rates.

  • Preschool Language Assessment Survey (preLAS 2000): Simon Says and Art Show
  • Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Fourth Edition [PPVT-4]
  • Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test-Fourth Edition (EOWPVT or EOWPVT-Spanish-Bilingual Edition)
  • Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test - Fourth Edition (Spanish-Bilingual Edition)
  • Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement-Third Edition/Batería III Woodcock-Muñoz (Spelling, Letter-Word Identification, Applied Problems)
  • ECLS-B Letter Sounds
  • ECLS mathematics assessment
  • Pencil Tapping Task
  • Leiter International Performance Scale Revised (Leiter-R) Examiner Rating Scale
  • Selected items from the Personal Maturity Scale, Social Skills Rating System and Behavior Problems Index
  • ECLS-K Approaches to Learning
  • Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R)
  • Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)
  • Short (12-item) form of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale (CES-D)
  • Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Questionnaire
  • Strengths-Based Practices Inventory (SBPI)

See Chapter III in the User's Manual for a complete listing of the measures/scales used.



2020-10-21 The Core: 2014-2015 Child Data (DS3) was resupplied after an error in the weight variable PRA12OCW was found and corrected by the PIs. The DS3 ICPSR codebook and study-level user guide were updated. An errata sheet was added; please refer to this documentation for further details on the variable change.

2020-03-26 The Use Agreement has been updated.

2019-04-25 Updated the data collection with additional data collected during spring of 2017, including the 2017 Center/Program Data file and 2017 Classroom/Teacher Data file, datasets 6 and 7 respectively. The User's Manual documentation was also updated to account for the 2017 study wave. Study title was updated to expand date range from 2014-2015 to 2014-2017, in order to accommodate new data. Study documentation covers were updated to account for new study title.

2018-06-01 Updated to add SAS format files.

2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), United States, 2014-2017. ICPSR36643-v6. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2020-10-21. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36643.v6

2018-02-15 Data files and study documentation were released.

2017-04-14 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

The FACES 2014 data include a set of sampling weights to account for variations in the probabilities of selection as well as eligibility and cooperation rates among those selected. Consult Chapter VI of the User's Manual for a more in-depth explanation of the weights, the weighting procedure, and the specific formulas used for each of the weights. Chapter VI also providers guidance on the appropriate weight to use for different analyses.



  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

CFDA logo

This study is maintained and distributed by the Child and Family Data Archive (CFData). CFData hosts datasets about young children, their families and communities, and the programs that serve them. CFData is supported by Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), an office of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.