Head Start Thanks Champions in Congress for Historic Investment in FY20

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following passage in the Senate of the final fiscal year 2020 (FY20) spending bill, NHSA thanked members of Congress from both parties for their steadfast support throughout the year in championing this historic investment in America’s most vulnerable children and families.

“Head Start has many champions on both sides of the aisle, but we would not be here without the amplifying work of many elected officials, most specifically Senators Dick Durbin (D – IL), Shelley Moore Capito (R – WV), Roy Blunt (R – MO), Patty Murray (D – WA), and the lifetime work of Representatives Nita Lowey (D- NY), Rosa DeLauro (D – CT), Tom Cole (R – OK), Steve Stivers (R – OH), and Chuck Fleischmann (R – TN) in support of young children and their families,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said.

“The Head Start community is also grateful for the new wave of members of Congress who have recognized that children are the greatest victims of trauma caused by the rise in opioid and other substance use disorders. Representatives David Trone (D – MD), Denver Riggleman (R -VA), and Katherine Clark (D – MA) have made their mark in the ongoing struggle to prevent and heal trauma caused by parental addiction, and we salute their leadership.”

Head Start champions in Congress welcomed today’s victory for vulnerable children and families:

  • Rep. Katherine Clark (D – MA) said: “The $550 million increase to Head Start will expand the program’s critical capacity to better support families and the Head Start workforce. This funding increase is an important step in realizing our responsibility to protect the health, safety, and education of America’s future: our children.”
  • Rep. Steve Stivers (R – OH) said: “As the son of a kindergarten teacher, I was lucky to receive a strong educational foundation at home. I want to make sure all children receive that same foundation, which is why I am proud to be a champion for Head Start. It is our duty to equip students, regardless of zip code or household income, with the tools they need to thrive, and I am glad that this appropriations package will do just that.”

The bill, which is the result of negotiations between the House and the Senate, includes  $10.6 billion for Head Start, the highest funding level in history for the early childhood development program. The bipartisan agreement also dedicates $250 million in new resources to expanding Head Start’s ability to continue to improve quality and provide trauma-informed care to the increasing number of children experiencing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), responding to recommendations NHSA’s Opioid Working Group first laid out in the 2018 report, “A Head Start on Treating Our Nation’s Opioid Epidemic.”

The appropriations bill, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this week, the Senate earlier today, and is expected to be signed by the President later this week, includes more than $10.6 billion in funding for Head Start in FY20, including increased funding for the following priorities:

  • $250 million for Quality Improvement Funding, including increasing services from mental health professionals to provide expert care and counseling to families and the Head Start workforce; providing staff training on trauma-informed approaches to service delivery; and adding staff to Head Start classrooms.
  • An increase of $100 million ($905 million total) for the expansion of Early Head Start and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, adding additional slots for eligible infants and toddlers.
  • $4 million for re-establishing the Tribal Colleges and Universities Head Start Partnership Program to increase the pool of Native American educators who meet the national standards for qualified Head Start teachers.
  • $193 million for a cost-of-living adjustment—an increase of just under 2%—to support and retain a qualified Head Start workforce.

More than 200 members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, signed letters of support to congressional appropriators advocating for robust funding in FY20. In addition to requesting funding to improve services for children and families and invest in retaining a qualified workforce, those letters called for new spending to be dedicated for Head Start to provide trauma-informed care and other supports to vulnerable children impacted by addiction in their communities and other ACEs.

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 840,000 children and families from systemically underserved populations, 250,000 staff, and 1,600 Head Start grant recipients. ••• Media Contact: media@nhsa.org

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