Supplemental pandemic-related funding will help address the increased expenses associated with providing safe and effective services to children and families

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today expressed gratitude to Congress for responding to the concerns of Head Start by including $250 million in critical funding to meet rising operational costs attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with CARES Act funding from earlier this year, Congress has delivered an additional $1 billion to support Head Start programs nationwide in responding to COVID-19. The agreement, which also includes a $135 million increase for Head Start for fiscal year 2021, is scheduled to be considered by Congress later today and passed by tomorrow.

“Local Head Start and Early Head Start programs have performed heroically, particularly for these last nine months, stepping up to every challenge and stretching every dollar to continue providing exemplary services to America’s most at-risk children and families,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “We are deeply grateful to Head Start’s many committed champions in Congress—including Senators Tammy Duckworth and Lisa Murkowski, and Representatives Dina Titus, John Katko, and Joe Neguse, as well as House and Senate leadership who stepped up in a bipartisan way to ensure that Head Start’s needs were addressed. With this critical bridge funding, programs can continue serving children and families safely during the pandemic. The $250 million is a critical step toward meeting Head Start’s COVID-19 needs, and we look forward to working with policymakers in the new year to maximize Head Start’s role in supporting children and families through and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Initial estimates of COVID-19 costs borne by Head Start in calendar year 2020 were $1.7 billion. This increased cost is attributable to the needs concerning PPE, technology to provide distance learning, facility adjustments, sanitation supplies and janitorial staff, staffing adjustments and asynchronous learning to meet social distancing requirements, and implementing other health and safety protocols. The changes implemented by Head Start have earned recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as exemplary practices for mitigating COVID-19 spread while providing in-person early childhood services.

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. In recent months, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have continued to demonstrate their steady commitment to Head Start, with Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) standing up for Head Start children and families in the Senate and 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. On December 4, Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Congressman John Katko (R-NY) joined forces to introduce a bill aimed at meeting Head Start’s $1.7 billion need.

The National Head Start Association is a nonprofit 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.

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