If approved by Congress, Head Start would receive a 1.9 percent funding increase in fiscal year 2014, a move intended by the Obama Administration to counteract a 5-percent sequester cut that took effect last month.
In his State of the Union address in January, Obama also called for an expansion of preschool and early-childhood education programs, including the federal program for low-income children. His fiscal year 2014 budget proposal would raise the total Head Start and Early Head Start budget to $9.621 billion, a 27-percent increase in the post-sequester fiscal year 2013 budget.
“We applaud President Obama’s continued commitment to early childhood education with his budget proposal,” said Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association on April 10. “We embrace the President’s plan to expand the number of children who can participate in high-quality Early Head Start programs—addressing the large gap in our ability to provide comprehensive services for children along a birth-to-five continuum. We look forward to working with the Administration and Members of Congress on the details of this national investment in early learning to ensure lifelong success for our most at-risk children.”
NHSA said the sequester, which took effect March 1 and is retroactive to the beginning of the year, was likely to cut enrollment by 70,000 students nationwide as well as result in staff layoffs. But an association spokeswoman said the proposed budget spike would negate those cuts for regular Head Start students while expanding Early Head Start enrollment by nearly 107,500 children. All told, Head Start and Early Head Start serves about 1 million low-income preschoolers nationwide.