Head Start Spared as Funding for Federal Programs Extended Through September

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Local Head Start agencies nationwide will continue to be fully-funded to the tune of $7.57 billion until this fall after President Obama signed legislation that ended the current budget debates in the House and Senate — for now.

“We are grateful to our supporters in the Administration and Congress for taking a stand to protect Head Start,” said Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association. “We are heartened that Congress passed a budget that allows all currently enrolled children and families to continue benefiting from this proven pathway to success. We will continue working with our national leaders to ensure access to quality Head Start Programs, because we believe that progress and economic prosperity are absolutely dependent upon our sustained investment in the early education, health and well-being of at-risk children and families.”

Last month, NHSA said 55,000 Head Start personnel could lose their jobs if funding was slashed. The program was established in 1965 to promote school readiness, health, nutrition, social and other services for 3- to 5-year-old children from low-income families.

Head Start and Early Head Start serves more than 1.1 million children nationwide, but it remains unknown how many of these children rely on school bus service to get to and from local programs as those records are extremely hard to come by. There are nearly 2,900 Head Start agencies nationwide that have more than 56,000 classrooms.

Meanwhile, NHSA said that Head Start classrooms could be trimmed down to 40,000 without full funding.

Vinci added that, since the beginning of the year. congressional members and administration staffers have received more than 115,000 messages in support of the Head Start. Additional events were held the past three months in Washington, D.C., and across the country as staff, parents and students lobbied to keep the program afloat.