NHSA’s advocacy work is central in accomplishing our vision of ensuring that all vulnerable children have access to the Head Start model of comprehensive and family centered services. In order to accomplish this vision, our focus extends to many different policy areas and issues. Find out more about our top policy and advocacy priorities below.

Head Start Legislation

On December 12, 2007, President Bush signed into law the Improving Head Start Act for School Readiness Act of 2007, which reauthorized Head Start and Early Head Start through September 30th 2012. The Act received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing the House by a vote of 381-36 and the Senate by a vote of 95-0. Head Start’s next reauthorization will take place amidst a much more turbulent and partisan climate. Congress is faced with a burgeoning national deficit and many lawmakers are intent on resolving the nation’s federal fiscal outlook before addressing anything else.


Head Start Funding

Perhaps the most important advocacy area that Head Start engages in every year is funding. As a non-defense discretionary program, Congress decides funding levels for Head Start every year, and the funds are then disseminated to each individual program based on a formula.

Head Start Regulations

The Office of Head Start, in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, administers the Head Start program to local grantees in communities across the county. Guidance and regulations from the Office of Head Start govern many of the day-to-day realities for programs and ensure a high baseline of quality for all programs.
In November of 2016, the Head Start Program Performance Standards went into effect. The standards reinforce Head Start as a research-based model of high quality, yet with the flexibility for innovation. They encourage continuous quality improvement over compliance. In short, they support local design—so each Head Start program is able to meet the unique needs of their community’s children and families. If you have questions about the new standards, contact advocacy@nhsa.org.


Head Start's Next Reauthorization

Head Start was most recently reauthorized by Congress in 2007, through the "Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007." The law made sweeping changes to Head Start—such as introducing a system of competition, requirements for teacher education, and several other significant changes to the proven Head Start Model. As we move into the 116th Congress, preparations for the next Head Start reauthorization have been underway for over a year—specifically thinking about what the next 50 years of Head Start should look like to pave the way for a strong future.