Funding for Head Start Emerges Amid COVID-19 Relief Negotiations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) welcomed revitalized COVID-19 negotiations in Washington that indicate strengthened congressional support for critical funding for community-based Head Start programs. In the updated HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) made public on Monday, leadership in the House of Representatives included $1.7 billion to fill the funding gap and provide safe in-person, virtual, and home-based education, health, nutrition, and family support services to America’s most vulnerable children and families. Based on extensive surveying of Head Start providers, NHSA estimates operational costs will increase by up to 20 percent this year as individual programs adapt and respond to the pandemic.

NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci released the following statement in response:

“Head Start and Early Head Start staff have been working in overdrive since March to adapt their teaching strategies, sanitize classrooms, make necessary health-related adjustments to facilities, and provide access to quality online and other remote learning opportunities for children and families from at-risk backgrounds―all while valiantly grappling with these rising COVID-19 operational costs. Head Start never stopped working.

“The latest House draft of the COVID-19 emergency relief bill, the HEROES Act, is a welcome ray of hope for the tireless, dedicated workers on the frontlines of nurturing the development of America’s most vulnerable children. This emergency funding must not be lost in negotiations. Head Start children and families, already susceptible to the worst health and economic impacts of the pandemic, continue to turn to their local Head Start for the comprehensive support that is the cornerstone of the program’s whole-child, whole-family model.

“Head Start has stood by children and families, providing critical care for children so parents could work, partnering with families in securing stable housing, ensuring children received needed meals, and as always, nurturing children’s development and meeting children’s school readiness needs. We’re working, and we need our champions in Washington to keep working. The Head Start community is counting on Congress and the administration to see Head Start’s critical, emergency funding through.”

In July, Congressman Dina Titus (D-NV) and Congressman John Katko (R-NY) led a bipartisan letter signed by 129 members of Congress to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urging inclusion of $1.7 billion in the HEROES Act to enable Head Start programs nationwide to address rising COVID-19 costs. Over the last six months, Head Start programs never closed, and have constantly adjusted to new state, local, and federal COVID-19 guidelines and safety requirements.

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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