Early Head Start State Policy Agendas
State policy is critical to expanding access to Early Head Start, whether through sensible licensing regulations, infant/toddler workforce supports, or facilitation of child care partnerships. Earlier this month, NHSA hosted a convening of 20 prenatal-3 coalitions and state Head Start associations to discuss opportunities and the Early Head Start Rising campaign. Since then, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York Head Start Associations have developed Early Head Start state policy agendas specific to their unique state needs and context.
These state policy agendas follow the release of NHSA’s policy brief discussing five options states could explore to meet early learning and care goals. Expanding Early Head Start through existing Head Start programs is a critical strategy to create a true prenatal-to-five continuum that supports children through entry into kindergarten.
Early Head Start combines full-day care, home visiting, health services, and family support, helping states meet important goals for pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and their families. There is a 500,000 slot gap between funded Early Head Start slots and Head Start slots. Closing this gap will require more federal investment and targeted state efforts to accelerate progress.