WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations proposed investment in Head Start for fiscal year 2021, which approaches the funding level agreed to in the House of Representatives earlier this year. This action by the Committee sets in motion negotiations with the House to complete funding legislation for Head Start and other federally-supported programs for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 of this year.
The proposal includes $10.7 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start—the early childhood development program for infants, young children, and families from at-risk backgrounds. This includes an additional $100 million in Head Start workforce investment over last year’s funding.
“Local Head Start programs across the country are stretching their limited resources to continue supporting America’s most at-risk children and families through the COVID-19 pandemic, and this bipartisan progress in Congress is encouraging,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “Programs and staff are finding new ways to meet the obstacles created by COVID-19 and have stood by Head Start children and families throughout the crisis. We’re counting on Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress to unite on behalf of the one million children and families who turn to Head Start for health, mental health, nutrition, and school readiness support.”
NHSA has recommended $11.37 billion in funding for Head Start for fiscal year 2021 (FY21), an increase of approximately $750 million over the FY20 appropriation. This additional funding would support Head Start programs that are seeking to expand their hours of service for children and families, equip staff with skills in providing trauma-informed care to children coping with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and retain a qualified, experienced workforce.
In addition to pre-existing FY 2021 needs, COVID-19 has caused Head Start programs to incur an estimated $1.7 billion of new costs in order to simply maintain critical services to families this calendar year. In an op-ed recently published in The Hill, NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci appealed to Congress to provide Head Start with the funding necessary to safely reopen classrooms and provide the many in-person services that are critical for supporting child welfare, as well as the nurturing care necessary for parents to return to work.
Head Start has historically garnered strong, bipartisan support, with Republicans and Democrats uniting time and again to ensure local programs have the resources they need to continue making a well-documented impact on the lives of children and families. Earlier this year, Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) led a letter to leadership, gathering 45 signatures from Republican colleagues, in support of meeting Head Start’s needs in FY21. Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-IL), rallied the support of their Democratic colleagues in sending a similar letter. Over the past few months, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have continued to demonstrate their steady commitment to Head Start, with Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) and Congressman John Katko (R-NY) joining forces to champion Head Start’s COVID-19-related needs in the House and Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) standing up for Head Start children and families in the Senate.
The National Head Start Association is a not-for-profit organization committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in school and in life. The opportunities offered by Head Start lead to healthier, empowered children and families, and stronger, more vibrant communities. NHSA is the voice for more than one million children, 270,000 staff, and 1,600 Head Start grantees in the United States. Visit www.nhsa.org and follow @NatlHeadStart for more information.