U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) voted today in favor of the Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, legislation that reauthorizes the Head Start program for the first time in a decade, provides more resources to serve children and families and ensures that highly-qualified and well-trained teachers teach at Head Start programs. The legislation -- which passed the House by a vote of 381 to 36 -- authorizes $7.35 billion for Fiscal Year 2008 to help tens of thousands more children succeed in school. The bill must also pass the Senate before it can be signed into law.
“The Head Start program gives economically disadvantaged children the help they need to become effective learners and successful students,” said Larsen. “In the long run, investing in Head Start means stronger students, stronger families and stronger classrooms in which all of our children can grow and thrive.”
In the 40 years since the program was founded, Head Start has served 20 million children and families. Through Head Start, parents receive educational and professional support to help them be better parents and community members, and children receive health, nutrition, and educational support to help them learn. Resources for Head Start grants have been stagnant in recent years, and the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 will increase funding to help more children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed.
“In recent years, flat funding along with increased costs has strained our resources and impacted services,” said Joan Youngquist, Director of Skagit/Islands Head Start. “Skagit/Islands Head Start enrolls 431 children in Skagit, Island and San Juan Counties, and we already have a wait list of over 300 children waiting to get in. We are particularly excited about the long term possibility of increasing Early Head Start services because of the high need and the strong impact this “birth to three” program makes early in children’s lives.”
Started in 1995, the Early Head Start program serves children from birth to three years of age in recognition of mounting evidence that the earliest years are hugely important to children's growth and development. The Head Start for School Readiness Act provides resources to expand Early Head Start so more children can receive educational help and other services during this critical period.