NHSA Recognizes Congressional Leaders with 2022 Awards

Sen. Richard Burr was honored with NHSA’s highest accolade, the Robert E. Cooke Lifetime Achievement Award, for his career-long dedication to Head Start.

Sen. Richard Burr was honored with NHSA’s highest accolade, the Robert E. Cooke Lifetime Achievement Award, for his career-long dedication to Head Start.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Head Start Association recognized nine members of Congress for their leadership in supporting Head Start, the comprehensive early childhood development program for infants, young children, and their families. Sen. Richard Burr (NC) was honored with NHSA’s highest accolade, the Robert E. Cooke Lifetime Achievement Award, for his career-long dedication to supporting America’s most vulnerable children and families. Dr. Cooke was a visionary pediatrician who helped create Head Start and dedicated his career to addressing the health and wellness needs of America’s most disadvantaged children.

  • “Over his entire career in Congress, Senator Burr has worked in a bipartisan, even non-partisan, manner to provide early childhood educational opportunities to all families, regardless of income or zip code,” said North Carolina Head Start Association President Terry David. “Senator Burr understands that affordable, safe, and high-quality child care is not only important to working families, it’s important for the children who are our future leaders. His successful fight to pass legislation to improve the safety, affordability, and quality of child care so that our kids are in good hands during the work day and prepared for elementary school will be felt for generations.”

Reps. Katherine Clark (MA-5), Joe Morelle (NY-25), and Lauren Underwood (IL-14) received the Head Start Pledge Award for demonstrating a steadfast commitment to fulfilling the Head Start pledge.

  • “Congresswoman Clark has been a voice for Head Start in Massachusetts for decades, from her days at the Office of Child Care Services, at the Massachusetts State House, and now in the halls of Congress,” said Michelle Haimowitz, executive director of the Massachusetts Head Start Association. “Not only does she deeply understand the challenges that Head Start agencies and parents face, but she fights to make the historic systems-level changes and investments that our field desperately needs. Our Head Start community in the Fifth District and across the Commonwealth is lucky that Congresswoman Clark represents the needs of our programs, staff, children, and families.”
  • “We congratulate Rep. Joe Morelle as he receives the Head Start Pledge Award,” said New York State Head Start Association President Carolyn Wiggins. “New York State appreciates your support of the Head Start community.”

Reps. Fred Keller (PA-12), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Jaime Herrera-Beutler (WA-3), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), and Mondaire Jones (NY-17) received the PROMISE (Protecting Our Most Important Students Early) Award. The PROMISE Award honors members of Congress who have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to Head Start and to serving our nation’s most vulnerable children and their families, not only in their districts, but across the nation.

  • “Congressman Keller recognizes that programs offered by Head Start give children essential opportunities to learn and grow while also supporting families in need,” said Executive Director of Bradford-Tioga Head Start Jody Thomas. “Bradford-Tioga Head Start has touched hundreds of children’s and families’ lives right here in PA-12 and Congressman Keller has been instrumental in that mission by supporting the funding and regulations that guide the program.”
  • “I’m so glad that the National Head Start Association is honoring Congresswoman Herrera-Beutler for her work on behalf of Head Start children and families,” said Joel Ryan, executive director of the Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP. “I consider her a key ally and important voice on Head Start. I have seen first-hand how she has been instrumental in fighting for more funding to expand Head Start to more eligible children and families in Washington State and nationally.”
  • “We congratulate both Rep. Mondaire Jones and Rep. Elise Stefank for their support of the Head Start mission,” said New York State Head Start Association President Carolyn Wiggins. “New York State appreciates your support of the Head Start community.”

The awards were presented to members of Congress during NHSA’s 2022 Winter Leadership Institute, where congressional champions addressed Head Start parents, alumni, and other supporters who were on Capitol Hill to advocate for the early childhood development program with members of Congress and their staff.

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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