WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association today welcomed congressional passage of legislation to provide $650 million to meet the recovery needs of Head Start programs impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. NHSA was also pleased the budget deal passed by Congress early this morning extended the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV), a program that helps guide low-income, at-risk mothers in parenting.
“Head Start welcomes this much-needed funding to help programs in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Gulf Coast continue to rebuild from the damage caused by the 2017 hurricanes,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to meet the needs of Head Start children, families, and programs now that the decks have been cleared and Congress will be able to deal with spending issues.”
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate caused widespread damage across the Gulf Coast, and devastated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many Head Start programs, which serve the most vulnerable children and families in these communities, remain closed due to damage from one or more of the storms. In Puerto Rico alone, Head Start centers serving nearly 36,000 families were impacted by the storms. Two months after the storms, the Office of Head Start (OHS) estimates that nearly 900 Head Start centers remain closed and more than 95 percent of the island’s 1089 centers have been damaged and will need some level of repair.
In Florida, Head Start centers serving more than 44,500 families have been affected by the storms and about 150 will need major damage repair to remedy structural, mold and roof problems.
In Texas, Head Start centers serving about 16,500 families were damaged and at least 20 centers will need major damage repair.
By comparison, about 100 Head Start and Early Head Start centers experienced physical damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012, ranging from minor cleanup to complete destruction of facilities. OHS received $95 million to assist Head Start and Early Head Start grantees with program response, recovery, and other activities related to the impact of Superstorm Sandy.