Head Start and Early Head Start Funding

In recent years, Congress has passed bipartisan legislation to fund Head Start and Early Head Start and support the quality of and access to early childhood opportunities. NHSA advocates for funding funded to accomplish the goals and activities authorized by law and to reach more eligible families.

Early Childhood Education Workforce

Despite the critical roles they play in the lives of vulnerable children and families, Head Start teachers and staff are often compensated with near-poverty-level wages. NHSA advocates for substantial and sustained investment in local programs to improve salaries for teachers and staff.

Infrastructure

Some Head Start facilities are state-of-the-art. Many are sufficient. But a staggering number are crumbling under decades of wear and tear. In addition, the technology gap—including hardware, software, and connectivity deficits that compromise children's ability to participate in virtual education—is acutely felt by the Head Start community. NHSA advocates for access to safe and healthy school environments.

Reauthorization of the Head Start Act

The Improving Head Start Act for School Readiness Act, which reauthorized Head Start and Early Head Start through September 2012, was signed into law in 2007. It made sweeping changes to Head Start—such as introducing a system of competition, requirements for teacher education, and several other significant changes to the Head Start Model. NHSA is preparing for the next Head Start reauthorization.

Eligibility

Head Start's eligibility requirements are in desperate need of modernization. NHSA advocates moving to Area Median Income to determine income eligibility and adding categorical eligibility for those qualified to participate in SNAP and WIC or in kinship care.

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NHSA's Policy Agenda for the 117th Congress

Our Policy Agenda outlines the opportunities and challenges facing Head Start as well as NHSA’s specific positions and reflects thinking and feedback from member programs, state, regional, and national Head Start associations, the NHSA Board of Directors, and Head Start parents, teachers, and staff. It should be considered the roadmap that guiding NHSA’s decisionmaking and advocacy for changes in current law, regulation, and practice. Please join NHSA in our public policy work by signing up as an advocate.

NHSA’s State Policy Agenda

These state policy highlights, drawn from NHSA’s full Policy Agenda, offer ways that states can expand their partnerships with Head Start and build greater equity into their early childhood systems.

Download NHSA's Policy Agenda