The Department of Health and Human Services is awarding approximately $290 million to 665 Head Start and Early Head Start programs to expand the number of children-attended programs that offer full school day and full school year services.
Congress allocated these funds as a down payment toward ensuring that nearly all preschool-age children in Head Start attend programs that operate for a full day and full school year. This investment complements new Head Start standards announced earlier this year, which require nearly all Head Start programs to offer full school day and full school year services by 2021. While these funds will ensure that communities have some full day and year slots, sustained and increased investment is needed to ensure that all Head Start children have access to a full school day and year of services.
“Strong and mounting evidence from research tells us when children attend high quality programs for more days and longer hours, they are better prepared for school and have improved outcomes,” said Linda Smith, HHS deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development. “We are pleased Congress has appropriated these funds for young children served by the Head Start program.”
Research shows programs that run for fewer hours and fewer days may not have enough time to provide frequent intentional teaching in small groups and individualized instruction, or to provide necessary comprehensive services. Long summer breaks can also undermine the gains that children make during the program year.
This supplemental funding allows Head Start programs to choose the models that work best for their communities when designing programs with more total annual hours. Programs work with parents in deciding to add days at the end of the year, to shorten the summer gap, to add more hours per day or a combination of both.
“Increasing the duration of Head Start programs is the right direction to help children, and it’s also more responsive to the needs of working families” said Mark Greenberg, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. “The funding provided by Congress will help to take an important step forward in strengthening the Head Start program.”
The $290 million in ongoing operational funding will become part of the grantee’s base funding subject to appropriations.
To learn more about Head Start, please visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs/.
Source: Early Childhood Development, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services