WASHINGTON, DC, December 19, 2019 – Following passage today in the U.S. Senate of the final fiscal year 2020 spending bill, the National Head Start Association thanked members of Congress from both parties for their steadfast support throughout the year in championing this historic investment in America’s most vulnerable children and families.
“Head Start has many champions on both sides of the aisle, but we would not be here without the amplifying work of many elected officials, most specifically Senators Dick Durbin (D - IL), Shelley Moore Capito (R - WV), Roy Blunt (R - MO), Patty Murray (D - WA), and the lifetime work of Representatives Nita Lowey (D- NY), Rosa DeLauro (D - CT), Tom Cole (R - OK), Steve Stivers (R - OH), and Chuck Fleischmann (R - TN) in support of young children and their families,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said.
“The Head Start community is also grateful for the new wave of members of Congress who have recognized that children are the greatest victims of trauma caused by the rise in opioid and other substance use disorders. Representatives David Trone (D - MD), Denver Riggleman (R -VA), and Katherine Clark (D - MA) have made their mark in the ongoing struggle to prevent and heal trauma caused by parental addiction, and we salute their leadership.”
Head Start champions in Congress welcomed today’s victory for vulnerable children and families:
Rep. Katherine Clark (D - MA) said, “The $550 million increase to Head Start will expand the program’s critical capacity to better support families and the Head Start workforce. This funding increase is an important step in realizing our responsibility to protect the health, safety, and education of America’s future: our children.”
Rep. Steve Stivers (R - OH) said, “As the son of a kindergarten teacher, I was lucky to receive a strong educational foundation at home. I want to make sure all children receive that same foundation, which is why I am proud to be a champion for Head Start. It is our duty to equip students, regardless of zip code or household income, with the tools they need to thrive, and I am glad that this appropriations package will do just that.”
The bill, which is the result of negotiations between both the House of Representatives and the Senate, includes $10.6 billion for Head Start, the highest funding level in history for the early childhood development program serving at-risk infants, young children, and their families. The bipartisan agreement also dedicates $250 million in new resources to expanding Head Start’s ability to continue to improve quality and provide trauma-informed care to the increasing number of children experiencing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), responding to recommendations NHSA’s Opioid Working Group first laid out in the 2018 report, “A Head Start on Treating Our Nation’s Opioid Epidemic.”
The appropriations bill, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this week, the Senate earlier today, and is expected to be signed by the President later this week, includes more than $10.6 billion in funding for Head Start in FY20, including increased funding for the following priorities:
The increased funding level for Head Start comes after a year in which more than 200 members of Congress—both Republicans and Democrats—signed letters of support to congressional appropriators advocating for robust funding in fiscal year 2020 for Head Start. In addition to requesting funding to improve services for children and families and invest in retaining a qualified workforce, those letters called for new spending to be dedicated for Head Start to provide trauma-informed care and other supports to vulnerable children impacted by addiction in their communities and other ACEs.
For more than five decades, Head Start has partnered with families and communities to provide education, health, and nutrition services to economically disadvantaged children, as well as parenting and employment supports to their parents. Numerous recent reports and studies demonstrate Head Start’s effectiveness in supporting at-risk children and families on their paths to success in school and life. By involving the whole family in a child’s education and development through an emphasis on parent engagement, Head Start strengthens families and local communities.