Targeted State Efforts to Expand Early Head Start

Targeted State Efforts to Expand Early Head Start Early Head Start (EHS) 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 EHS slots and Head Start slots. Closing this gap will require more federal investment and targeted state efforts to accelerate progress. As Head Start stands on the precipice of monumental investments in child care and preschool, NHSA has developed a new policy brief discussing five options for how EHS can help states meet goals embedded in the Build Back Better framework. Expanding access in child care deserts to high-quality infant and toddler care Create a state EHS funding stream to direct funding to federal grant recipients in good standing or expand the use of contracts to fund or supplement EHS services and supports. Strengthening the overall quality of birth-to-three supports Adjust child care rules and regulations to facilitate EHS-CCP growth, especially for underserved populations and through family child care settings. Supporting infant, child and maternal health, including improved birth outcomes, immunizations, nutrition, and early identification of developmental delays Expand support for EHS home visiting. 34% of current…

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Access is More than Eligibility

Access is More than Eligibility Findings from a new national survey, conducted in partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, of 2,400 practitioners on barriers to access affirm access to Early Head Start and Head Start means more than eligibility. It means working to remove barriers by providing transportation to families, hiring diverse staff, and creating strong partnerships to reach and support all eligible families. The survey focused on identifying state policies and practices which serve as discriminatory barriers. A prerequisite to reaching this answer was identifing the top seven barriers to access. Top Seven Barriers to Access Lack of transportation and/or geolocation of center-based care Low income limits and Early Head Start and Head Start eligibility issues with other state-led funding streams Lack of overall Early Head Start and Head Start supply (e.g. wait lists, sibling issue, Early Head Start especially) Inadequate hours of service (duration) by Head Start programs Early Head Start and Head Start workforce dynamics, including a lack of bilingual staff, staff turnover, and difficulties with hiring a representative, diverse workforce Lack of parent awareness of Early Head Start and Head Start and perceptions of quality and types of services provided Wide mix of socioeconomic issues related…

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5 Ways State Policymakers can Support the Children of Head Start in 2021

5 Ways State Policymakers can Support the Children of Head Start in 2021 Intervention by state policymakers can make a difference, positively changing and course-correcting the life trajectories of tens of thousands of young children at highest risk. Here are 5 ways state policymakers can step up for Head Start in 2021: Expand awareness of and referrals to Head Start and Early Head Start to drive up enrollment. Enrollment in Head Start programs is being stressed in many communities, in part because traditional recruitment activities are no longer tenable during the pandemic, and in part because some parents are understandably fearful to return, despite the strong health and safety practices. In addition to direct benefits for children and families, supporting Head Start and Early Head Start enrollment will minimize stress on other systems within states and communities. Strengthening statewide efforts to enroll eligible children who may be in foster care, experiencing homelessness, or in families involved with TANF is one-way states can expand outreach to assist local enrollment efforts. Others efforts could include awareness campaigns and messaging about the unique benefits of Head Start to past income-eligible or wait-listed CCDF families. Fund contract slots in areas where child care supply has been decimated or where…

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Featured Report: Children’s Equity Project

Featured Report: Children’s Equity Project NHSA’s recent webinar, Head Start and Universal Pre-K: What We Know and What We Need, featured a diverse group of national experts who shared their insights and common goals around: The urgency for Congress to enact bold new investments in early childhood, prenatal to age five The opportunity to scale Head Start’s quality standards and model in a way that is responsible and inclusive, including through partnerships with child care and schools The need to center families and communities throughout implementation The long-overdue need to invest in higher compensation for the early childhood workforce, greater career opportunities, and linguistic and cultural diversity We are grateful to present this webinar with Dr. Shantel Meek, founding director of the Children’s Equity Project. Dr. Meek is a long-time partner and friend of NHSA and—in her role at the helm of the Children’s Equity Project—recently a report with the Century Foundation arguing for making Head Start the anchor of a new universal system. The report focuses on one element of the American Families Plan—universal preschool—and describes how it can bridge opportunity gaps and promote healthy, positive outcomes for young learners. The report unpacks the argument for making Head Start…

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Governors are Key to Head Start Success

Governors are Key to Head Start Success It wasn’t just a stroke of good luck when Governor Kate Brown of Oregon recently approved a state budget that includes $26 million for Early Head Start. It was the result of years of high-quality service delivery from Oregon Head Start and Early Head Start programs, awareness building, advocacy, and partnership work by the Oregon Head Start Association. Although Head Start and Early Head Start are largely fueled by federal funding and regulations, governors are key to supporting program success or impeding progress. On a bipartisan basis, they have a growing interest in supporting early childhood education. In fact, in their 2021 State of the State Address, 18 governors focused on the importance of investing in the early years and supporting families with young children On the other hand, left uncultivated, their influence in Washington D.C. can open the door to systemic threats to Head Start and Early Head Start’s future, including shifting the program’s tried-and-true federal-to-local grant model to a less effective block-grant that would dilute the program’s connection to local communities, ability to adapt to what families need, and a strong focus on equity. The good news? Over decades, the Head Start community…

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