December 04, 2020

Congressman Neguse, Congressman Katko Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Provide COVID-19 Relief to Head Start Child Care Facilities

Washington D.C.—Today, Congressman Joe Neguse and Congressman John Katko introduced bipartisan legislation to provide $1.7 billion in COVID-19 relief funds to Head Start to pay for additional staffing, personal protective equipment, cleaning and other needs at child care facilities across the United States. The Jumpstart for Head Start Act, would address the estimated funding shortfall for Head Start grantees and would appropriate funds directly to Head Start programs based on enrollment ratio. 

“Affordable quality child care is critical to supporting essential workers today and the ability of many parents to return to work in the future,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “While many child care centers and Head Start programs have remained open throughout the pandemic, they lack the resources necessary to provide adequate protection and cleaning. The Jumpstart for Head Start Act will provide critical funds for Head Start programs across Colorado to help keep our kids and child care workers safe.”

“I’m glad to be partnering with Rep. Joe Neguse to introduce a bipartisan bill that would deliver $1.7 billion in emergency funds for Head Start programs,” said Congressman Katko. “These programs help local providers administer nutritional, educational, and development support services to young children from low-income families. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, many providers have been burdened with new costs that threaten their ability to continue serving families in-need. By delivering emergency funding, we will ensure all children have the resources they need to grow, regardless of their family’s income.”

Unlike schools, many child care centers in Colorado have been open during most or all of the pandemic, and some have adapted to provide virtual or in-home services. Based on extensive surveying of Head Start providers, the National Head Start Association estimates operational costs for the program will increase by up to 20 percent this year as individual programs adapt and respond to the pandemic, and is therefore advocating for $1.7 billion in emergency funding for anticipated costs for providers to re-open safely for in-person instruction and to continue to provide virtual and home-based services.

“We commend Congressman Neguse and Congressman Katko for their leadership today in introducing a bill to address the immediate funding needs of Head Start and Early Head Start programs,” said National Head Start Association Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “In the face of COVID-19, programs are working tirelessly with at-risk children and families to bring hope, stability, and a holistic approach to overcoming this pandemic. Regardless of location and size, local Head Start programs are confronting real increased costs for staffing, sanitizing and supplying PPE, ensuring classroom safety, and enabling virtual learning. The funding included in this bill would be an essential down payment on keeping Head Start programs operating safely throughout this crisis. NHSA looks forward to working with Congress to move this critical legislation and address the longer term, far-reaching impacts of learning loss and childhood trauma related to COVID-19.”

“This is timely, helpful legislation that acknowledges the need for the funds to be attached to the Head Start base grant,” said Carolyn Martin, Poudre School District Director of Early Childhood Center, Fullana Learning Center. “So it goes much further than the emergency response funds congress released last spring.  Our children need this ongoing allocation so we can meet their needs as our community recovers from the global pandemic.”

“Our community here in Loveland, Colorado, is very fortunate to have a rich and robust Head Start Program right within our public school system!” said Nicole Graber, a teacher in the Thompson School District. “We value our connection with Head Start and the framework it offers us; we are able to provide our students and families with preschool education, access to full day preschool programming, health and nutrition, a collaborative partnership with families, and a network of community resources, especially now during the pandemic. Head Start's commitment to supporting the growth and development of young children and their families is a valuable asset to our district and community.” 

“Head Start has been a pillar in our community since 1968, preparing students and families for Kindergarten and beyond! Head Start helps to nourish a child's development and provides support to the families. Families build connections with the teachers and staff at the school to help build the gap between home and school,” said Lamb Caro, Early Childhood Administrator & Head Start Director at Thompson School District. “As a former Head Start student, I can speak to the support, experience, and success that Head Start has provided for so many students and families. Since the pandemic started, the needs of our families have increased and the needs have changed. Food insecurity, access to technology, social-emotional support, and ensuring safety of our Head Start community are a few of the many needs that have become apparent. We have needed to connect with students in different ways while also increasing the capacity of the staff to work with our families in new and innovative approaches. The need for additional funding is critical, especially as we move forward in supporting families now and in the future. We are focused on ensuring that our students continue to grow and succeed.”

Head Start programs deliver high-quality, evidence-based education and comprehensive services to children across the country. With the help of Head Start, children are equipped with skills to enhance their social and emotional well-being, and receive health screenings, oral and mental health support, while parents can access resources to reach their financial goals and education needs. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Head Start programs quickly adapted and readjusted their Head Start model to implement innovative strategies to help vulnerable families in need during the public health crisis. Poudre School District and Thompson School District benefit from Head Start funds, along with many other child care providers across Colorado.