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Advocating for Head Start on Capitol Hill: the 2016 Fall Leadership Institute

Another Fall Leadership Institute for the Books

NHSA just wrapped up another invigorating and enlightening Fall Leadership Institute! We were joined in Washington, D.C. by nearly 400 members of the Head Start community - directors, management, and even parent ambassadors. The week was spent learning and discussing together; we heard from the Office of Head Start, White House staff, Head Start alums and insightful guest speakers about the major issues facing Head Start today.

We started the week off with our pre-institutes on Monday. Seyfarth Shaw, a law firm specializing in labor and employment issues, came to discuss the implementation of the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime rule. Seyfarth has developed a series of resources on FLSA which may be used in addition to the resources NHSA has gathered on our website. Feldsman Tucker Leifer Fidell provided a pre-institute to discuss how the Uniform Guidance is affecting Head Start organizations a year and half after implementation.

Taye Diggs: NHSA's Child Literacy Ambassador

Having author and actor Taye Diggs and co-author and illustrator, Shane Evans in D.C. was a highlight of the week. As NHSA’s Child Literacy Ambassador, Taye came to FLI to talk about his new book, Mixed Me!, and the importance of supporting Head Start. Taye and Shane discussed cultural responsiveness and even broke out into song during Tuesday’s closing plenary. On Wednesday, they took to Capitol Hill to advocate for Head Start. Taye took meetings with Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Senator Roy Blunt (MO), Senator Patty Murray (WA), and more!

I know personally if I hadn’t received the opportunity to learn, to have caring adults in my life, and to be educated without the barriers low-income families face, I would have never developed into the actor, the man, the parent I am today.” - Taye Diggs


New Standards for Head Start

After the excitement with Taye and Shane on Wednesday, the Head Start community dove straight into the new Head Start Program Performance Standards. The Office of Head Start (OHS) provided over 10 hours of training on the standards, covering a range of topics including program structure, governance, family engagement, quality improvement, ERSEA, and more. The OHS team guided attendees through the new standards and provided sessions on the new monitoring system and DRS.

We wrapped up the week with White House staff who came to discuss the Presidential agenda for the months remaining. Roberto Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President on Education, and Sharon Parrott, Associate Director for Education, Income, Maintenance, and Labor Programs at the Office of Management and Budget, talked about the importance of advocating for Head Start to ensure the program’s future funding. We were thrilled for the opportunity to honor them for their work in supporting Head Start throughout their time in the Administration.

With refreshed energy and new ideas, FLI attendees left ready to get to work on implementing the program standards back home.

Make sure to join us in Washington, D.C. this January for our 2017 Winter Leadership Institute - with a new administration in the White House it will be more important than ever that we gather!