NHSA Statement on Multistate Lawsuit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the Head Start Vaccine and Mask Interim Final Rule with Comments (IFC), Louisiana and 23 other states are suing the Biden administration. The IFC proposes adding new mask and vaccine requirements to the Head Start Program Performance Standards to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Face masks and vaccinations play a critical role in reducing the spread of COVID-19. But the rule wants it all one way and the lawsuit wants it all the other way,” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “Head Start leaders are seeking the middle ground. Local programs need the flexibility to work with their staff to achieve full vaccination, within local guidelines, and with appropriate accommodations to keep classrooms open. We can’t let children lose access to crucial services because of a mandate that may be impossible for many to operationalize.”

While the multistate lawsuit cited NHSA’s recent field survey, NHSA did not play a direct role in the filing. NHSA conducts surveys of the field on a regular basis on a wide variety of topics, from trends in children’s access to healthcare to workforce shortages. Results from the recent survey about the IFC indicated that the new rule could lead to Head Start programs losing between 46,614 and 72,422—or 18% to 26%—of all staff and the closing of over 1,300 Head Start classrooms.

“Like so many sectors in our economy, Head Start and Early Head Start programs are facing an acute labor shortage. This proposed operational change hits programs where they currently hurt the most: staffing,” said Vinci. “Services to children and families cannot be delivered without staff. That’s why it is imperative for all of us to seek to balance the absolute imperative of widespread vaccination with the reality of local differences for Head Start programs across the country.”

Shortly after the IFC was announced, NHSA sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, outlining the IFC’s potential impact. NHSA plans to finalize and submit comments on the IFC on Thursday, December 23, 2021.

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

In Recent News

 Scott’s Miracle Gro-Foundation and National Head Start Association announce the winners of the 2023-2024 Garden Grants

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and NHSA are awarding 12 GroMoreGood garden grants to programs connecting our nation's youth to gardening.

Read More

NHSA’s Response to FY 2024 Appropriations Bill

NHSA is pleased to see a record investment of $12.27 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start in the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bill signed into law by the President over the weekend.

Read More

The Beans and National Head Start Association Celebrate Two Years of Success Improving Employee Retention and Wellbeing for America’s Educators

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The Beans, a financial technology startup, and National Head Start Association (NHSA), a pioneer in early childhood development and education, proudly mark the second anniversary of their partnership to reduce stress and support staff retention. Financial stress continues to rank as the most persistent form of stress in America, with teachers…

Read More