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Head Start Cheers House Passage of Robust Funding Bill

June 19, 2019

Bill Includes $750 Million to Aid Head Start in Addressing Surge in Childhood Trauma

 
WASHINGTON, DC — The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded Head Start’s champions in the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation to increase Head Start funding in fiscal year 2020 (FY20) by more than $1.5 billion. At the urging of NHSA and the Head Start community, the bill includes $750 million to equip Head Start programs with additional training in trauma-informed care and provides access to increased mental health services for children and families. The bill also enables programs to adjust staffing levels to counteract the challenges of drug addiction, community violence, displacement and other forms of extreme trauma.

On behalf of the more than one million children and families who benefit from Head Start’s community-based services every year, we thank the House for passing this bill,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “The House has demonstrated its strong support for Head Start’s whole-child, whole-family approach to early childhood development, and we urge the Senate to make a similar investment in America’s most vulnerable children and families.”

Despite the broader conversations about spending this year, Head Start has continued to receive vocal support from both Republican and Democrat lawmakers. Following his leadership of a Dear Colleague letter earlier this year, Congressman Steve Stivers recently wrote in a newspaper column, “I am especially proud to have led bipartisan efforts in Congress to secure robust funding for the Head Start program...It is a proven success.” Similarly, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, who also rallied support among her colleagues for Head Start with a letter, has said the House’s funding bill “is not only great for parents, it is great for kids."

The fiscal year 2020 Labor, HHS, Education & Related Agencies Appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives today recommends more than $11.5 billion in funding for Head Start in FY20, including for the following priorities:
  • $750 million for Quality Improvement Funding for Trauma Informed Care, including increasing services from mental health professionals to provide expert care and counseling to families and the Head Start workforce; providing staff training on trauma-informed approaches to service delivery; and adding staff to Head Start classrooms.
  • $217 million for a cost-of-living adjustment—an increase of over 2%—to support and retain a qualified Head Start workforce.
  • An increase of $525 million ($1.33 billion total) for the expansion of Early Head Start and Child Care Partnerships, adding over 80,000 slots for eligible children. 
  • $8 million for the re-establishing the Tribal Colleges and Universities Head Start Partnership Program to increase the pool of Native American educators who meet the national standards for qualified Head Start teachers.
 
Vinci continued, “Head Start appreciates Congress’s inclusion in this bill of $750 million to address the surge in childhood trauma and associated challenging behaviors that Head Start programs confront at alarming rates. House passage of this critical funding brings us one step closer to realizing Head Start’s full potential for early intervention in the lives of children to mitigate the impact of trauma.”

Learn more about NHSA’s recommendations for how Congress could activate the full potential of Head Start in responding to the opioid crisis and supporting children exposed to trauma and their families. 

Head Start offers education, health, and nutrition services to economically disadvantaged children, as well as parenting and employment supports to their parents or guardians. Numerous recent reports and studies clearly indicate that Head Start is an effective tool for empowering families to break the cycle of poverty. By involving the whole family in a child’s education and development through an emphasis on parent engagement, Head Start strengthens families and local communities.