Head Start Values and Approach Underpin Biden Early Learning Plan
President Biden seeks historic expansion of access to early learning
WASHINGTON, DC — The National Head Start Association commends the Biden Administration’s American Families Plan for the high value it places on investing in children and families, particularly those of color and those in poverty. In addition to proposing expanded access to preschool in the likes of Head Start’s high quality, the plan proposes direct investment in Head Start’s workforce as a necessary pillar for growth, ensuring that all educators earn $15 per hour, and reach parity with kindergarten educators when equally qualified and valuing educator development, a necessity explored in NHSA's most recent report. “The Head Start community is encouraged to see the administration recognizing and acting on the need to support families and the critical role of early learning in creating clear trajectories out of poverty.” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “In this pursuit, the research is clear: there is no better national program to meet the administration’s goals than Head Start, and we look forward to working with the Biden Administration in furtherance of our shared goal to expand access to Head Start and Early Head Start’s high-quality, comprehensive services.”
Vinci continued, “Any expansion of early childhood education can and should begin with commitment to increased racial and economic equity by expanding access to Head Start and Early Head Start. We will continue to work with our Republican and Democratic champions in Congress to meet the needs of the most at-risk children—those in poverty, in foster care, those with disabilities, and those experiencing homelessness—the very individuals Head Start has successfully supported for more than five decades.”
Even before COVID-19, Head Start served only 36% of income-eligible three and four year olds and only 11% of income-eligible infants and toddlers. There are approximately four times fewer Early Head Start slots than Head Start slots, which prevents the most vulnerable learners from experiencing a continuum of quality care during the critical prenatal to five period. Read more about NHSA’s recommendations on approaching expansion of early childhood learning in this recent letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra.