National Issues

KHSA works collaboratively with national partners to support the following priorities in Head Start:

Maintain the Federal to Local Funding Structure

Since its inception, Head Start funds have flowed directly from the federal government to community-based Head Start providers in the form of grants. This model is the epitome of local control and accountability. It ensures a baseline of quality across the country, but allows programs to tailor their services to fit their communities’ needs. This is accomplished by allowing locally designed program options to be based on (1) Head Start Performance Standards and (2) an extensive triennial community needs assessment. Local grantees form partnerships with community businesses, state/local governments, school districts, non-profit organizations, and safety net providers to design their program to specifically benefit the children and families they serve.  The federal-to-local funding structure ensures that Head Start programs can most effectively provide the highest level of quality early learning intervention to the most at-risk children and families in diverse communities across the nation.

Parent/Family Engagement

One of the most critical conditions for life success of young children rests on the engagement of their families. Therefore, programs that work with young children must also engage the child’s family. Following the Head Start standards for family engagement, programs accomplish this in many ways, including using family service workers to assist families to develop family plans; find appropriate medical and dental homes for their children; and reinforce children’s educational development at home.  Head Start programs support families to become to become effective advocates for their children in the K-12 school system and beyond.

Comprehensive Services

Head Start children and families face extensive and challenging needs that can be real barriers to success in school and in life.  Many lack access to basic services that help their more advantaged peers prepare to learn.   Head Start programs address these needs through a variety of services such as health, dental health, mental health, nutrition, and safety—all are integral to healthy brain development and later success in life. To be able to learn, children have to be healthy. Children cannot be ready to learn if they are hungry or they cannot see a chalkboard. In tailoring the intervention to each child’s needs, the Head Start model recognizes physical development and health, and social and emotional development as key domains necessary for learning. These domains and the comprehensive services that support them are the foundation of school readiness and invaluable to any effective early learning intervention.

Birth to Five Model

Combined, the Head Start and Early Head Start programs were able to reach fewer than one million children in 2011-12. Currently, 85% of those served are children ages 3-5 attending Head Start.   A true prenatal-to-five program would increase providers’ ability to serve whole families in a continuum of care and expand access to infants and toddlers.

Restore Sequester Cuts

President Obama signed the Omnibus Bill Friday Jan 17, 2014.
·         This bill establishes spending through Sept 2014
·         The bill includes the following items specific to Head Start:
         o   $8.6 billion (a $1.025 billion increase)
                 §  8.173 billion “base”
                     ·         restores cuts from sequestration (about 406 million.  Projection is restoration of 50,000 children of the 57,000 cut due to sequestration)
                     ·         supports an approximately 1.3% cost of living adjustment for all current grantees.
                §  $25 million for DRS – same as previous year
                §  $500 million to expand Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
Sequestration Restoration Talking Points:
·         We are thrilled that the legislation partially restores Head Start funding lost to sequestration and prioritized an additional, investment in Early Head Start.
·         Clearly our elected officials have a shared commitment to reopening the window of opportunity for our most vulnerable children.
·         Without question, sequestration devastated Head Start programs in 2013.
·         Not only did more than 57,000 children lose access to Head Start and early Head Start, but over 1.3 million service days were lost, transportation was slashed, staff positions were eliminated, and entire Head Start centers closed.
·         Right here in Kansas, 440 children lost access to Head Start.
·         Although it will be a long road, we are enthusiastic about beginning 2014 by getting back to the work of rebuilding rather than cutting.