Program Visits: A Powerful Way to Illustrate the Value of Head Start

Over the last year, members of Congress have quite literally gone the extra mile to advocate and show up for Head Start. Dozens of Senators and Representatives have made a visit to a Head Start program, from California to Connecticut.

A program visit is one of the most powerful ways to illustrate the value of Head Start in the communities they represent. Guiding elected officials through local classrooms is an impactful opportunity to show the unique, innovative, and high-quality services Head Start provides.

Visits allow you to educate your members about Head Start’s comprehensive, multi-generational, and community-based model. Most importantly, first-hand exposure to Head Start children, families, and classrooms gives elected officials memorable experiences to keep in mind when they are making funding decisions.

2022 Highlights

In February, Rep. Mike Carey’s (R-OH-15) Legislative Assistant Brianna Tibbetts toured the YMCA of Central Ohio Child Development Council in Columbus, OH. The kids welcomed Brianna with homemade artwork and she shared her own connection to Head Start as an alumna of a program in North Dakota.

In March, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) visited ABCD Head Start in Dorchester, MA, alongside Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. A long-time champion of Head Start, this wasn’t Sen. Warren’s first visit, and her experience reinforced her commitment! At the end of her tour, she said she would “keep fighting for universal child care and higher wages for every child care worker in America.”

In April, many members and staff took a trip to their local Head Start center! Sen. Jerry Moran’s (R-KS) Legislative Assistant Jake Vance visited Early Childhood Connections in Hays, KS. Between height comparisons, high fives, and circle time, Jake collected success stories to bring back to his boss. In San Diego, CA, Rep. Sarah Jacobs (D-CA-53) visited the Neighborhood House Association, where she was greeted by a beautiful welcome poster and heard from parents first-hand. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) spent a morning reading to children and learning about the Kids & Co. Early Head Start program in Pearisburg, VA. And in Worcester, MA, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-02) cooked, sewed, listened to music, and made some art with the kiddos.

In May, the Vine Street Early Education Center welcomed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-28) for a tour of the Los Angeles, CA, program. Rep. Schiff met with program staff to learn about how their work impacts the community. Of course, he also joined our youngest learners during the most important time of the day: playtime!

In June, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) visited ACES Early Head Start, alongside Governor Ned Lamont, to celebrate the success of the Housing Voucher pilot, a collaborative effort designed for Early Head Start and Head Start programs made possible by the National Center for Housing & Child Welfare, the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, the Connecticut Head Start Association.

In August we kicked off the month with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) visiting the East Bay Community Action Program, recently recognized as a Program of Excellence, where read during circle time. A few days later, Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL-26) toured Le Jardin’s Head Start program in Homestead, FL.

Is Your Member Next? Tools to Support Your Program Visit

This August, NSA encourages you to invite your Senators and Representatives, and their staff,  to tour your Head Start centers in person or virtually. Remember: NHSA is always ready to help! Email us anytime at advocacy@nsha.org to plan or support your upcoming visit.

Amirh Moore

Amirh Moore is NHSA's senior associate of Government Affairs and Advocacy. Amirh leads NHSA's grassroots outreach, including our biannual fly-in leadership conferences. She graduated from Howard University with a bachelor's degree in political science. Prior to NHSA, Amirh worked as an assistant teacher at various Head Start programs in New Haven, Connecticut.

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