NHSA Applauds Bipartisan Support in Congress for Historic Investment in Children and Families

December 17, 2019

Cheers Targeted Funding for Head Start to Address Trauma

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded Congress’s proposed historic investment in Head Start, as detailed in the annual spending bill that would fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2020.  The bill, which is the result of negotiations between both the House of Representatives and the Senate, includes a record-setting $10.6 billion for the early childhood development program for 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 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 Head Start community applauds Congress’ unified commitment to strengthening and expanding the impact of Head Start for our nation’s most at-risk children and families,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “This historic investment shows that both Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress are serious about expanding Head Start’s ability to meet the needs of America’s most vulnerable children.”

“For the past several years, Head Start teachers and staff have been sounding the alarm about the dramatic increase in children experiencing trauma who are arriving on the doorsteps of their programs. With the direct support in this spending bill for Head Start to provide trauma-informed care, Congress is signalling an intentional focus on activating Head Start as part of the solution in addressing the ripple effects of addiction and violence on children.”

The appropriations bill, which passed the House of Representatives today and is expected to pass the Senate later this week, includes more than $10.6 billion in funding for Head Start in FY20, including increased funding for the following priorities:

  • $250 million for Quality Improvement Funding, including increasing services from mental health professionals to provide expert care and counseling to families and the Head Start workforce; providing staff training on trauma-informed approaches to service delivery; and adding staff to Head Start classrooms.
  • An increase of $100 million ($905 million total) for the expansion of Early Head Start and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, adding additional slots for eligible infants and toddlers.
  • $4 million for re-establishing the Tribal Colleges and Universities Head Start Partnership Program to increase the pool of Native American educators who meet the national standards for qualified Head Start teachers.
  • $193 million for a cost-of-living adjustment—an increase of just under 2%—to support and retain a qualified Head Start workforce.

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.