WASHINGTON, DC, April 18, 2018 – The National Head Start Association’s Executive Director, Yasmina Vinci, commented on the legacy created by Barbara Bush, former First Lady of the United States, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 92.
“Head Start will remember First Lady Barbara Bush as a passionate believer in our shared mission: empowering parents as their children’s first teacher,” Vinci said. “Mrs. Bush was a powerful ally of Head Start, and used her influence to support education and literacy initiatives. It is no coincidence that while she was First Lady, Head Start’s federal funding nearly doubled. She was a loyal friend to Head Start and her legacy will live on in the millions of families and children she impacted.”
A strong advocate for literacy, Mrs. Bush often visited Head Start classrooms, where she read to children and encouraged their parents to do the same. During her husband’s administration, funding for Head Start programs nationwide increased from approximately $1.2 billion to $2.2 billion, a percentage increase that has not been matched since. Before leaving office, President Bush called for additional funding to ensure that every eligible four-year-old had access to Head Start so “by the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn.”
In honor of Mrs. Bush’s work as an education advocate, the Barbara Bush Parent Center was established in College Station, Texas, in 1997. The center operates an Early Head Start program, offering various activities for parents of children birth to three, and also collaborates with a local Head Start program to support parents of preschool-aged children.