WASHINGTON, DC, May 18 – The national organizations representing the Head Start community and state legislatures celebrated today the early childhood development program’s 53rd birthday. Leaders of the National Head Start Association (NHSA) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) visited with children and staff at Higher Horizons, a Head Start program in Falls Church, Virginia. NHSA is launching a national initiative to encourage state legislators to visit their local programs to see first-hand how Head Start's innovative child development practices and community-designed approach are making an impact.
“Head Start’s locally-designed model is key to the early childhood development program’s success in thousands of diverse communities across the nation,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “We look forward to working with local programs to invite their state legislators to get a personal look at Head Start’s customized, comprehensive approach to high-quality early learning. NHSA believes that every child deserves the chance to succeed, and we welcome partners in this mission.”
“We are honored to have NCSL representatives visit Higher Horizons and witness first-hand the impact Head Start is making on the lives of so many vulnerable children and their families,” Higher Horizons Executive Director Mary Ann Cornish said. “Today’s visit exemplifies the value of public officials taking the time to tour Head Start centers and meet the children in their own communities who experience the Head Start Advantage.”
Head Start programs reach nearly one million children and their families every year with educational, health, nutrition, and other services to support their growth and development. These services are designed with feedback and input from parents, teachers, and the overall community to make sure they are tailored to best meet their needs.
Recognizing that parents are their child’s first and most influential teachers, Head Start works with families to remove barriers and to strengthen their ability to teach their children. Research has shown that because of the resources and training provided by Head Start, parents of Head Start students are more likely to read with their children, increase their own education, and offer more stimulating home environments than non-Head Start parents. Children who participate in Head Start are less likely to need special education classes or repeat grades when they are older, and are more likely to graduate high school, attend college, and help their families escape the cycle of poverty.