WASHINGTON, D.C.///January 15, 2009///The National Head Start Association (NHSA) issued the following statement today via NHSA Board Chairperson Ron Herndon, who also is the director of the Albina Head Start program in Portland, Oregon:
"Even though we announced on January 8, 2009 that Head Start and Early Head Start need $4.3 billion as part of the economic recovery package, we are pleased today to learn that the proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill includes $2.1 billion for what are America's most successful early childhood education and health programs.
These funds will be used by Head Start and Early Head Start to create new jobs and provide safe, high quality services for children as parents go back to work. An investment in Head Start generates both new jobs and it maintains jobs for low-income families in America's most distressed communities. Economic recovery funds directed to Head Start and Early Head Start will prove to be one of the strongest possible ‘kick start' investments that the federal government makes to connect directly with the children and families that need the most help during these tough economic times.
We continue to believe strongly that the full $4.3 billion in additional funding is needed for Head Start and Early Head Start. As such, we see the $2.1 billion in the economic recovery bill as an important ‘down payment' on the $4.3 billion needed and is consistent with President-elect Obama's early childhood priorities."
In addition to issuing the Herndon statement, NHSA also pointed out that the major studies documenting the benefits of Head Start and Early Head Start for children and families include the following:
* Our society receives nearly $9 in benefits for every $1 dollar invested in Head Start children, according to the preliminary results of a longitudinal study of more than 600 Head Start graduates in San Bernardino County, California (Meier, 2004). These projected benefits include increased earnings, employment, and family stability, and decreased welfare dependency, crime costs, grade repetition, and special education. In addition, Head Start has been shown to benefit participating children and society at large by reducing crime and its costs to crime victims (Fight Crime Invest In Kids, 2004; Garces, Thomas, and Currie, 2002).
* Substantial research demonstrates that Head Start children experience increased achievement test scores and favorable long-term effects in terms of less grade repetition and special education, and higher school graduation rates (Barnett, 2002; Ludwig and Miller, 2007).
* Early Head Start children at age 3 had larger vocabularies and a higher level of social-emotional development than their peers did (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2002).
* Recent research suggests that Head Start reduced the mortality rates for 5- to 9-year-old children from causes that could have been affected by their participation in Head Start when they were 3- and 4-year-olds (Ludwig and Miller, 2007).
* Children attending Head Start have increased access to dental care and have higher immunizations rates than non-Head Start children do (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2005; Currie and Thomas, 1995).
Reliable research demonstrates that quality early childhood programs, such as Head Start, are effective as part of a smart workforce development strategy and as anti-poverty tools:
* Head Start's emphasis on parental involvement contributes to positive growth and the upward mobility of Head Start parents by helping to move them out of poverty (Oyemade, Washington, and Gullo, 1989).
* The national Early Head Start Impact Study found that Early Head Start parents were more likely than control group parents to ever be employed or participate in an education or job training program (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004).
* Early Head Start parents were also more likely than control group parents to work more hours each week and participate in any education or training program (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004).
In March 2008, more than three out of four Head Start programs reported that they were "at or near the breaking point" and unable to absorb a Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 budget cut and hundreds of new unfunded mandates imposed in the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007. After years of slashing budgets, employees and benefits to squeeze into an effective 13 percent budget cut from FY 2002-2008, Head Start programs cautioned at that time that there was no room for additional cuts. Between 2006 and 2008 hundreds of Head Start programs across the United States had no choice but to scale back days and hours of operations, bus service, support staff, and other critical services and manpower. Many Head Start programs have even had to eliminate health insurance coverage for their teachers and staff.
The National Head Start Association (http://www.nhsa.org) is a private not-for-profit membership organization dedicated exclusively to meeting the needs of Head Start children and their families. It represents more than one million children, 200,000 staff and 2,600 Head Start programs in the United States. The Association provides support for the entire Head Start community by advocating for policies that strengthen services to Head Start children and their families; by providing extensive training and professional development to Head Start staff; and by developing and disseminating research, information, and resources that enrich Head Start program delivery.
CONTACT: Ailis Aaron Wolf, (703) 276-3265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.