Five Ways to Prepare for Build Back Better

Five Ways to Prepare for Build Back Better In the early childhood education and care community, emotions are running high. We are brimming with hope and excitement about the historic investments within Build Back Better. At the same time, continued challenges from the pandemic and a workforce crisis like we’ve never seen before create fear and frustration. Every Head Start (and Early Head Start) program in every corner of the country is facing the same daunting reality and conflicting feelings. NHSA is hearing many of the same questions from Head Start directors across the country. How can I best serve children and families if I can’t open classrooms because I can’t find staff? How can I support and prepare my current staff? How will vaccination mandates impact staff capacity and future hiring? How can I find and recruit eligible children in the shadow of the pandemic? All these questions swirl around the urgency of the current moment: what can the Head Start community do to survive and serve on a day-to-day basis? But another question looms. While it doesn’t impact Head Start directors on the day-to-day right now, it soon will: what is this new universal pre-K and child care…

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What the Infrastructure Deal means for Head Start

What the Infrastructure Deal means for Head Start The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a monumental step forward for the nation. While much more direct impacts to Head Start and Early Head Start will likely be observed in the pending Build Back Better legislation (including pre-k and child care expansion), the infrastructure package does hold some key provisions for the Head Start community. Here are three ways the passage of this historic legislation will impact us: The bill will expand access to clean drinking water by replacing lead water pipes. The water crisis in Flint shed light on one of the many ways the crippling effects of poverty in a child’s earliest years echo throughout their lifetime. This funding is an important investment that will ensure that the children and families affected by the lead contamination get solution-oriented mitigating services.In addition, support systems must be activated to address social and health issues arising from the water crisis, including special education and mental health programs and medical care. Head Start’s service model is proven infrastructure through which these interventions can be delivered efficiently. The bill will make high-speed internet affordable and available everywhere in America. The digital divide—the economic, educational,…

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Supporting Families Experiencing Homelessness

Supporting Families Experiencing Homelessness Children under the age of 18 made up 60 percent of people experiencing homelessness in families in 2020. Over one million children under 6 years old experienced homelessness in the United States in 2015. Of those children, only 8% were served in Head Start, Early Head Start, or through other programs authorized by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) to help children experiencing homelessness. That leaves 92% of children who have experienced homelessness unserved and unsupported by federal programs. Impacts on Young Children during Vital Development Years The ESSA defines homelessness as “lacking a fixed regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” NHSA believes homelessness is more than living without a roof. Homelessness can be unstable, irregular, and unsafe environments that magnify the negative impacts poverty has on young children during vital years of development. Head Start programs play a critical role in identifying and embracing children and families experiencing homelessness. Research suggests enrollment in Head Start is associated with greater school readiness among children in emergency shelters with their families. The Head Start Program Performance Standards include specific guidelines dedicated to supporting the unique challenges that children and families experiencing homelessness face. Programs can provide…

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