Head Start Reacts to Committee Passage of FY23 Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Head Start Association applauds the work of the House Appropriations Committee and the leadership of Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro and Ranking Member Tom Cole for including a record level of funding for Head Start in the FY23 Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS)-Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill. The bill provides an increase of $1.4 billion in Head Start and Early Head Start funding as part of an overall $34.4 billion in discretionary funding for the Administration for Children and Families. The funding legislation was adopted during Full Committee consideration today.

“The House FY23 spending plan for HHS takes a meaningful step forward on addressing crippling Head Start workforce concerns. With a sizable cost of living adjustment and flexible Quality Improvement Funding to support needed recruitment and retention efforts as well as address the impact of child trauma, the Committee has done great work today” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “We are especially thankful for a COLA that’s more in-line with inflation levels from earlier this year. Due to inflationary pressures on Head Start, this kind of responsive funding is necessary to keep programs from falling further behind. Having said that, we must begin to make systemic changes to Head Start and address the growing compensation gap between early and elementary education.”

The FY23 bill includes $12.4 billion in overall funding for Head Start, including:

  • $596 million for a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Head Start staff (an approximately 5.4% increase, which is more than double what the White House proposed for FY23, though still below the current rate of inflation)
  • $262 million for flexible, locally determined Quality Improvement Funds for trauma informed care, classroom improvements and/or workforce retention and recruitment efforts.
  • $500 million for expanded access to infant toddler care through Early Head Start Expansion and Child Care Partnerships
  • $8 million for the Tribal Colleges and Universities-Head Start Partnership Program

While Committee passage of this important funding legislation is a positive step towards strengthening early childhood education across the country, NHSA and the Head Start community continue to call on Congress for help in addressing systemic pay parity gaps. Workforce data indicate early educators face severe pay disadvantage for working with younger children nationwide, with their poverty rates an average of 7.7 times higher than for teachers in the K-8 system.1

“Head Start’s experienced, well-trained, and credentialed staff need to be appropriately compensated. For too long, early childhood education has relied on workers willing to overlook compensation that puts them among the very lowest of paid professions,” said Vinci. “The Head Start workforce will crumble if bold, immediate changes aren’t made. We strongly urge Congress to act quickly on a permanent solution to support the people who make Head Start possible.”

To read more about Head Start’s recommendations to Congress and the Administration on supporting Head Start, download NHSA’s brief on the Head Start Workforce Crisis.

1Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. (2020). Early Childhood Workforce Index. University of California Berkeley. cscce.berkeley.edu/workforce-index-2020/the-early-educator-workforce/early-educator-pay-economic-insecurity-across-the-states

About NHSA

The National Head Start Association is a not-for-profit organization 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 nearly 1 million children, 270,000 staff and 1,600 Head Start and Early Head Start grantees in the United States. ••• Media Contact: media@nhsa.org

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