Head Start Leaders Get to Work, Despite Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Leaders of the Head Start community are in Washington, D.C., to plan for the future of the comprehensive early childhood education program. The National Head Start Association’s Winter Leadership Institute will offer the Head Start community informative sessions, innovative panels, and invaluable networking events over the course of four days. Together, the Head Start community will strategize on how to build upon a successful 2017 and prepare to tackle new challenges in 2018.

“Throughout history, uncertainty has created opportunity, and we will continue to find opportunities to make Head Start stronger in Washington and in every community across the nation,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci shared with attendees at this morning’s opening session. “The federal government has closed down, but the aim of our work will not change. In fact, now it is more important than ever to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill, and we will be meeting as planned with our members of Congress and whatever staff is in their office this week.”

The focus of the 2018 Winter Leadership Institute is “Having the Difficult Conversations” about the challenges the Head Start community across the nation is facing. Speakers, sessions, and discussions will be dedicated to issues of concern, such as developing and retaining a qualified workforce and coping with the effects of the opioid epidemic on the families and children Head Start serves.

Vinci continued: “The workforce is the backbone of Head Start, and we rely on our home visitors, classroom teachers, bus drivers, cooks, and everyone else on staff to create a warm and welcoming environment for our nation’s youngest learners. Yet every day Head Start programs are faced with impossible choices: serve more children or increase staff wages? Invest in infrastructure or professional development? Spend resources on employee morale and retention, or on classroom supplies? The Head Start community will be tackling these issues through hard conversations with peers and experts from across the country, and will leave with not just renewed hope, but also some fresh ideas they can apply in their communities.”

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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