WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded the more than 200 members of Congress who reaffirmed their commitment to providing America’s most vulnerable children and families with the Head Start Advantage. 216 members of the U.S. House of Representatives—both Republicans and Democrats—signed letters of support requesting that congressional appropriators provide robust funding in fiscal year 2020 for Head Start, our nation’s early childhood development program that serves at-risk children from birth to age five and their families.
"The more than one million at-risk children who receive education, health, and nutrition services through Head Start each year thank our congressional champions for their unwavering commitment to opening windows of opportunity in their lives,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “Research has found that Head Start children are more likely to graduate high school, go to college, avoid incarceration, and achieve a higher quality of life as adults. This strong bipartisan support for Head Start from Congress shows that the majority of our lawmakers are committed to investing in America’s future. ”
In addition to requesting funding to improve services for children and families and invest in retaining a qualified workforce, the letters to congressional appropriators called for new monies to be dedicated for Head Start to provide trauma-informed care and other supports to vulnerable children impacted by the scourge of addiction in their communities and other adverse experiences.
“The opioid epidemic has resulted in instability for many families across the nation and Head Start plays a unique role in addressing the crisis,” wrote lawmakers in one letter. “With targeted funding, Head Start will reduce the societal costs of any traumatic experience by helping trauma-exposed children ‘catch-up’ to their peers while simultaneously supporting families.”
In another letter, members of Congress said, “At the center of Head Start’s effective model is its ability to provide much-needed stability for children and their families impacted by trauma, addiction, community violence or any number of adverse childhood experiences….We must continue to support them.”
Head Start offers education, health, and nutrition services to economically disadvantaged children, as well as parenting and employment supports to their parents. Numerous recent reports and studies clearly indicate that Head Start is an effective tool for empowering families to break the cycle of poverty. 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.