On February 7, President Biden delivered his 2023 State of the Union address. What made this year’s presidential address special? Head Start was in the House… literally! Three special guests received personal invitations to join the State of the Union from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), and Rep. Jim Himes (CT-4). Afterward, they shared their impressions and reflections with NHSA. Here’s what they had to say:

Triumph Head Start Parent Eugénie Ouedraogo

Sen. Warren brought a Head Start parent, Eugénie Ouedraogo, from Triumph Inc. Head Start in Taunton, MA, as her guest. Originally from Burkina Faso, Ms. Ouedraogo immigrated to the U.S. in 2017. Head Start is now the best option for her young child while she earns a nursing degree from UMass Dartmouth.

Dimock Head Start Teacher Jaqueline Sanches

Rep. Pressley hosted Early Head Start teacher at The Dimock Center in Roxbury, Jaqueline Sanches, who emigrated from Cape Verde and struggled to secure early education and care for her own children. Her story is emblematic of the widely felt and double-sided child care crisis, where wages for workers are low but costs are among the highest in the nation.

Children’s Learning Centers’ CEO Marc Jaffe

Rep. Himes brought Children’s Learning Centers (CLC) CEO Marc Jaffe. From offering safe child care for frontline workers, to feeding children who have nowhere else to eat, Mr. Jaffe and his team at CLC’s Early Head Start and Head Start offer life-changing services to their community.

Of course, these three joined the 17 Members of Congress who have personal connections to Head Start-bringing the total number of Head Start community representatives to 20!

  1. Alumnus Sen. Ben Ray Luján (NM)
  2. Alumnus Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (GA)
  3. Alumna Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-3)
  4. Alumna Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT-5)
  5. Alumnus Rep. André Carson (IN-7)
  6. Former parent Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-4)
  7. Former home visitor Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7)
  8. Former teacher Rep. Frederica Wilson (FL-24)
  9. Former teacher Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
  10. Former Parent Involvement Coordinator Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24)
  11. Former Policy Council member Rep. Tony Gonazles (TX-23)
  12. Former Policy Council member Rep. Troy Carter (LA-02)
  13. Former assistant teacher Rep. Pete Aguilar (CA-33)
  14. Former staff member Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13)
  15. Former staff member Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT)
  16. Son of Head Start teacher Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08)
  17. Brother of alumna Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD)

We are thrilled to see Head Start showing our strength at one of the most important speeches of the year! The presence of these leaders helped to call public attention to the need for long-term investments in affordable, accessible, and high-quality early childhood education and–most importantly–underline the fundamental contribution Head Start already makes to families and communities across the country.

Emily Wagner

Emily is NHSA's director of communications. Previously, she was deputy director of advocacy communications for the American Library Association and worked for many years in communications for Catholic University and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Emily spent her early years as a newspaper reporter.

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