NHSA Recognizes Congressional Leaders with 2023 Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Head Start Association recognized 15 Congressional leaders for their work to support Head Start, the comprehensive early childhood development program for infants, young children, and their families.

The Head Start community is grateful for the ongoing work of these members of Congress to ensure America’s underserved children receive the high-quality education and care they need for a bright future. We are grateful for our champions in Congress and thank them for keeping the commitment to Head Start in both their words and their deeds.

Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA, Susan Collins (R-ME); Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Raphael Warnock (D-GA) as well as Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-01), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Jeniffer González-Colon (R-PR-AL); Trent Kelly (R-MS-01), and Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM-03) for receiving the Head Start Pledge Award for demonstrating a steadfast commitment to fulfilling the Head Start pledge. Sen. Lujan and Rep. Leger Fernández are both Head Start alumni.

Here’s what the local State Associations shared:

  • “Pennsylvania has a long history of bipartisan support of Head Start by our elected leaders. Senator Casey and Representatives Fitzpatrick and Thompson are excellent examples of this support,” said Blair Hyatt, executive director of the Pennsylvania Head Start Association. “Sen. Casey is an outstanding supporter of early learning and all programs that support children and their families. Pennsylvania benefits from his leadership everyday. Rep. Thompson recognizes the importance of Head Start as a foundation for economic development in Pennsylvania by promoting family self-sufficiency and preparing children for success in school and in life. And Rep. Fitzpatrick is nationally recognized for his successful bipartisan work. His leadership will be essential as we work to address the many challenges facing Head families and programs in the 118th Congress.”
  • “Representative Teresa Leger Fernández and Senator Ben Ray Luján are true advocates for New Mexico’s youngest learners and their families. New Mexico is proud to have leadership representing them and applaud their efforts in putting our underserved children a priority,” said Crystal Pena, president of the New Mexico Head Start Association. “The Pledge Award fits well and deserves recognition of their leadership and commitment to public service especially during this critical time in legislation.”
  • “Congressman Kelly has shown his support for Head Start since being elected in 2015. He is well aware of the critical services necessary to support children’s early learning and development, children’s health, and family wellbeing to assist young children with a successful transition to kindergarten,” said MS Action for Progress Northern District Manager Angela Cherry and Center Administrator Angeleque Been. “Congressman Kelly has made on-site visits and he has witnessed the incredible work that staff carry out in daily operations in order to promote the success of children.”

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53), Blake Moore (R-UT-01), Burgess Owens (R-UT-04), Glenn Thompson (R-PA-15), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24) for receiving 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.

Here’s what the local State Associations shared:

  • “Over her entire career in Congress, Rep. Wilson has worked to provide early childhood educational opportunities to all families, regardless of income or zip code, in Florida and beyond,” said Dr. Maria T. Riestra, president of the Florida Head Start Association. “Rep. Wilson is a former Head Start teacher and coordinator who spent many years in the classroom in the Miami-Dade school district. She understands–first hand–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.”
  • “Congresswoman Wilson is a lifelong champion for children, from her days as teacher, principal, school board member and in the nation’s Capitol,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “She has been relentless in her support for early childhood education and improving the health and wellness of children and families through the Head Start Program. We are grateful for her unwavering advocacy.”
  • “We are proud to see Congresswoman Sara Jacobs recognized by the National Head Start Association for her work on behalf of Head Start children and families,” said Jodie Keller, board president of Head Start California. “From her leadership on the Murray-Kaine letter to the moving remarks she recently provided at the steps of the Capitol this past fall, she has been a highly visible champion for California’s most vulnerable children and families.”

The breakfast is part of NHSA’s 2023 Winter Leadership Institute. Leaders of the Head Start community from across the nation convened for three days of sessions, innovative panels, and meetings with their members of Congress.

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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