Posted on June 19, 2007 Issues: Child Care & Early Learning Head Start

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Contact: Jenice Robinson or Ranit Schmelzer, 202-588-5180

NWLC APPLAUDS BILL THAT STRENGTHENS, EXPANDS HEAD START

(Washington, D.C.) The Head Start for School Readiness Act takes important steps to strengthen the comprehensive early education program that serves nearly a million children from low-income families, the National Women’s Law Center said today.

The Senate today unanimously passed the measure. Among other changes, the bill makes more children eligible for Head Start, increases the number of infants and toddlers who can participate in Early Head Start, halts an administration-mandated test for all four-year-olds in the program, and increases the number of Head Start teachers who must have a bachelor’s degree. The House passed a similar bill earlier this year.

“This Head Start bill is a major step forward,” said Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center. “Children’s first years of life are critical to their education and social development. They need the kinds of valuable educational experiences that this bill seeks to make available to more low-income children.”

The bill recognizes the research on the importance of children’s first years of life and expands access to Early Head Start for infants and toddlers. It makes Head Start available to more low-income families, raising eligibility from 100 percent of the federal poverty level ($20,650 per year for a family of four in 2007) to 130 percent of the federal poverty level ($26,845 per year for a family of four). The measure also strives to ensure that vulnerable children have high quality early learning experiences by encouraging higher educational standards for Head Start teachers.

“Achieving many of the bill’s worthy goals will require significantly greater investments,” Campbell said. “But, this vote represents real progress for the millions of young children who can and will benefit from the supports offered by this important program.”

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