Head Start Parent to Congress: “Early Education Must Be Top Priority in Federal Budget”

Washington, D.C. – Head Start parent Shavon Collier testified before the Senate Budget Committee, emphasizing the overwhelming impact that present-day budget decisions will have on the futures of at-risk children. Joined by her daughter and Head Start alumna Sakhia Whitehead, Collier described her journey as a parent with children attending the Edward C. Mazique Child Center in Washington, D.C.

With nearly 200 children on the waiting list “the Mazique Center is in high demand because it is more than just a safe place for children while parents are at work,” Collier said. Speaking to Head Start’s comprehensive services, Collier added that Head Start “also helped my children build social skills. My son, for example, was a bit withdrawn at the time, but after only a few months he was playing and interacting with his classmates.”

NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci applauded Senator Patty Murray for her leadership in calling attention to the long-term effects of budget decisions made by Congress.

“For decades, bipartisan supporters on Capitol Hill have recognized the high return on investment of quality early learning,” Vinci said. “Children are 25% of our population, but 100% of our future.”

With her daughter sitting nearby, Ms. Collier closed by issuing a strong statement of support for greater investment in early education – even as sequester cuts have threatened the slots of 70,000 at-risk children across America. “Head Start has given me and my children an opportunity to build a better life, and I am so grateful for it. I hope this Committee will continue to support this investment in our children.”

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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