WASHINGTON, DC – Today the National Head Start Association announced a partnership with Uber to provide 500,000 rides to and from COVID-19 vaccination sites for the Head Start and Early Head Start community.
“For many in the Head Start community, the barrier to ‘sleeve up’ is not hesitancy—it is opportunity,” says NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “Right now families, staff, and educators find themselves in the ‘willing-but-hard-to-reach’ category and access to safe and reliable transportation is a key factor in determining whether they have access to vaccination sites. Our partnership with Uber leverages Head Start as a critical infrastructure connecting vulnerable communities to national goals, including vaccine appointments.”
“At Uber, we know that getting Americans vaccinated is critical to overcoming this global pandemic. That’s why earlier this year, we committed to connecting those in vulnerable communities with available vaccines,” said Julia Paige, Uber’s Director of Social Impact. “By addressing the issue of reliable transportation, especially for those without smartphones or internet access, our partnership with the National Head Start Association works to help eliminate this barrier and enable those most in need to get vaccinated.”
Head Start leaders and staff across the country have been engaged for months in an exhaustive planning process for safe reopenings of facilities and classrooms. The NHSA’s Destination Reopening Working Group released the Reopening Playbook, offering a step-by-step plan to get students back in classrooms.
“Adding free, reliable transportation helps reduce the barriers to getting the COVID-19 vaccine, a critical component to our work supporting families and staff and ensuring our learning centers can remain open safely and confidently,” says Isabel Garcia, Executive Director of RCMA, a Migrant and Seasonal Head Start grantee, and Co-Chair of NHSA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Mitigation Working Group. “We are thrilled to be able to address the underlying transportation reasons that are affecting Head Start community members who remain unvaccinated.”
Anticipating that many Head Start families do not have access to the Uber app, Head Start programs can use the Uber Health platform to coordinate rides on behalf of families to more than 80,000 vaccine locations.
Providing health screenings and facilitating health services such as vaccines and immunizations—as well as nutritional, dental, medical, and mental health services—are key components of Head Start’s comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of young children and their families.
“Statistically, Head Start children are disproportionately vulnerable to experiencing learning loss,” says Vinci. “Getting back to in-person learning is one of the most equitable steps we can take. And equitable access to vaccines starts with providing transportation to those who need it. We are thrilled to welcome Uber to our Sleeve Up for Head Start campaign and to have more resources to prioritize and protect the health of Head Start communities across the country.”
Find the full COVID-19 Vaccination Toolkit at go.nhsa.org/sleeve-up.
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 1 million children, 270,000 staff, and 1,600 Head Start grantees in the United States. Follow @NatlHeadStart for more information.
Emily Wagner, Communications Director