Today, the National Head Start Association (NHSA) is leading a day of action calling for the Head Start community to #UniteforHeadStart so that programs have adequate funding to serve children and families. Advocates are asking Congress to provide $1.7 billion in emergency supplemental funds. Additional funding will allow programs to continue to provide crisis-tested support services to children and their families while covering the unique additional costs associated with COVID-19.
Head Start and Early Head Start are federally funded programs that deliver comprehensive early learning, health, nutrition, and family support services to children from prenatal through age five living in poverty and their families. Last month, recognizing Head Start’s proven track record of success, more than 125 members of Congress wrote a bipartisan letter in support of $1.7 billion in supplemental funds, and 46 organizations, including FFYF, signed a letter urging Senate Leadership to include the additional $1.7 billion in funds for Head Start programs in the next relief package.
In this moment of tremendous disruption to life, Head Start programs provide critical services to some of the most at-risk children and families across the country. A recent report demonstrates the needs of Head Start programs to reopen safely and effectively serve children. Like other child care and early learning programs, Head Start faces additional costs to provide a safe environment for children and teachers. This includes the cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, facilities improvements, and increased staffing to care for children in smaller groups. According to NHSA’s report, 90% of programs surveyed will require renovations or new supplies to continue operation.
As Congress considers additional needed relief measures, supporting young children and their families will be critical for America’s economic recovery and the long-term survival of the child care industry. Providing Head Start and child care with funds to support increased costs and decreased enrollments due to the pandemic will ensure that families have safe and high-quality care options in the future.