Build Back Better Framework is a Historic Investment in Head Start, Early Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Biden released a revised framework of the Build Back Better Act, including a transformative $400 billion investment in universal preschool and child care. The $1.75 trillion legislation recognizes the essential role of early care and education in supporting children and their families, communities, and the economy.

Specifically, Build Back Better will provide new opportunities for millions of children to receive high quality early learning education and care while maintaining a focus on equity, so that these expanded opportunities will first focus on the most vulnerable children and families. Notably, the bill retains Head Start standards as measures of quality and includes $15 billion in investments in the Head Start workforce. Download NHSA’s Build Back Better Bill Summary.

The revised Build Back Better proposal ensures access to expanded early learning services across the country by expanding Head Start and Early Head Start by $3 billion per year should states decline to participate in the new child care program and by $2 billion per year if states decline to participate in the universal pre-k program.

“Supporting our children in their earliest years with high-quality education and care is one of the best investments we can make in our country’s future, and yesterday’s announcement of such a monumental investment has been nearly 60 years in the making,” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “Over the last six decades, Head Start has lifted up 37 million of America’s children and their families and communities. This history of success has shown us the enormous potential in an education that gives every child a strong, healthy, and safe head start in life. We are confident the Build Back Better framework will be transformative for many more generations and thankful for the President’s steadfast commitment to strengthening Head Start and building on its legacy.”

Build Back Better leverages and relies on state systems and, in doing so, centers Head Start as their North Star—pointing America’s universal pre-k system towards equity. The legislation acknowledges workforce challenges by providing for increased compensation, specifically delineating $2.5 billion per year for six years for the Head Start workforce. Like the broader early childhood community, Head Start is experiencing severe workforce shortages this year, and swift and efficient distribution of these additional funds will be critical to stabilizing the staffing crisis currently facing Head Start.

Overall, the bill is divided into two titles:

  1. Universal Pre-K: Federal-state partnerships create free high-quality preschool for six million children, based on the Head Start model for every three- and four-year-old.
  2. Access to High Quality Child Care: Multifaceted investments would provide early care and learning opportunities for an additional 20 million children. Families below 250% of state median income would pay no more than seven percent of their income, and those below 75% would not have a copay.

NHSA is encouraged by each of these provisions and looks forward to supporting state leaders, Head Start and other providers of early childhood care and education, and families as these components roll out. While the legislation still needs to cross the finish line, this framework marks a turning point in nationwide efforts to support America’s youngest learners and the workforce that makes it all possible.

About NHSA

The National Head Start Association is committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in school and in life. The opportunities offered by Head Start lead to healthier, empowered children and families, and stronger, more vibrant communities. NHSA is the voice for more than 1 million children, 270,000 staff and 1,600 Head Start grant recipients in the United States. ••• Media Contact: Emily Wagner, Director of Communications, media@nhsa.org

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