In Focus: Head Start/Early Head Start

Mar 19, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Head Start by the Numbers: 2012 State Profiles

By Rhiannon Reeves and Stephanie Schmit

All children need good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences to foster their healthy intellectual, social, and emotional development. Head Start and Early Head Start (EHS) provide comprehensive, high-quality early care and education and support services to vulnerable young children from birth to kindergarten, along with pregnant women and their families. These services strengthen families and ensure children enter school ready to learn. 

This week, CLASP released its 2012 Head Start State Profiles, including a new interactive map, that provide state-by-state data on all Head Start programs in the state: Early Head Start, Head Start preschool, and Migrant/Seasonal Head Start. The profiles include information on Head Start participants, families, staff, and programs. All Head Start grantees are required to submit Program Information Report (PIR) data to the federal government on an annual basis. 

According to the 2012 Head Start PIR data:

  • Head Start served over 1.1 million children nationally—5,000 more children than the previous year.
  • 25 percent of children in Head Start primarily spoke Spanish in their homes.
  • 41 percent of children served in Head Start were white, 37 percent were Hispanic, 29 percent were black, and 9 percent were bi- or multi-racial.
  • 97 percent of children had access to a medical home and were up-to-date on their immunizations at the end of the Head Start program year.
  • 91 percent had access to a dental home at the end of the program year.
  • 96 percent had access to health insurance at the end of the program year.
  • 76 percent of families accessed at least one family support service through Head Start.

State-specific information shows that: 

  • At the end of the program year, Massachusetts and Vermont had the highest percentages (100 percent) of children with access to a medical home, while the District of Columbia had the lowest percentage of children (67 percent).
  • At the end of the program year, Delaware and Massachusetts had the highest percentages (100 percent) of insured children, while the District of Columbia had the lowest percentage (68 percent).
  • At the end of the program year, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and Tennessee had the highest percentages of children (99 percent) up to date on all immunizations, while Vermont had the lowest percentage (81 percent).
  • At the end of the program year, Louisiana and Rhode Island had the highest percentages of children (99 percent) up-to-date on medical screenings, while the District of Columbia had the lowest percentage (31 percent).

The data analyzed in these state profiles demonstrate that Head Start programs, including EHS and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, are working hard to meet the needs of vulnerable families.  However, only 42 percent of all eligible Head Start children and about 4 percent of all eligible EHS children in the U.S. are currently able to participate in these important programs. Additional funds are necessary to expand access to Head Start services for children in need. 

Visit CLASP's interactive Head Start Map to read the profile for your state, or view the national Head Start PIR Profile for 2012.

Mar 4, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

President’s Budget: Early Childhood Programs Core to Expanding Opportunity

By Hannah Matthews

In releasing his budget proposal for FY 2015, the President today reaffirmed his commitment to expanding high-quality early learning for all young children. The President’s budget makes investments across birth to five programs in the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, including child care, home visiting, Head Start and Early Head Start, and pre-kindergarten.  The President called again for his Preschool for all plan proposed in last year’s budget. This includes preschool services for all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds and an expansion of voluntary home visiting programs financed by an increase in the federal tobacco tax.

Following the budget deal that re-opened the federal government after a partial shut-down, Congress reached an agreement in December on overall spending levels for discretionary programs in FY 2014 and FY 2015. The President in his budget proposal, offers his priorities for spending within the agreed-upon spending limits in his base budget. In addition, he has offered an “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” which would further fund key priorities by closing tax loopholes and making other reforms. Congress would be required to take legislative action beyond annual appropriations in order to fully enact these additional priorities. The Opportunity Growth, and Security Initiative budget signals that the Administration views current revenue and spending levels as inadequate for making investments in programs core to increasing opportunity for all, including early childhood education.

Specifically, the President’s budget request for FY 2015 proposes:

  • An $807 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, of which $57 million is discretionary funding and $750 million is mandatory funding. Of the discretionary funds, $200 million would be available to states by formula to increase child care quality.
  • A $270 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start, including a $150 million increase for expansion of Early Head Start through Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships. The Opportunity, Growth, and Security initiative would provide an additional $800 million for Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships.
  • A $250 million increase for preschool development grants to states to develop, enhance, or expand high-quality preschool programs for low-income children. The Opportunity, Growth, and Security initiative would provide an additional $250 million for preschool development grants. 
  • A $100 million increase for the Maternal and Infant Early Childhood Home Visitation (MIECHV) program.
  • A $3 million increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C to support early intervention services for infants and toddlers and their families. (IDEA Part B preschool services would be funded at last year’s level).

The President’s budget is the first step in the annual budget and appropriations process. In this budget request, the President has laid out his priorities for investment. Congress will now have its turn to issue budgets and assign program spending levels.  We encourage Congress to follow the President’s lead in advancing a budget that increases opportunity for our youngest children.

Feb 24, 2014  |  PERMALINK »

Goals for EHS-CC Partnerships that Meet the Needs of Low-income Families

By Stephanie Schmit

With the inclusion of funding for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships in the most recent omnibus spending bill, many folks are wondering what they are, who can participate and what will be required of applicants. The Administration has taken quick action by launching a new website just last week to ensure that those who are curious and ready to get started can get the information that they need. The website will continue to be updated as more information becomes available. It currently explains what the partnerships will provide, who is eligible to participate, and how the funds will be awarded.   

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will be issuing a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to provide instructions and criteria to those interested in applying for an EHS-CC partnership grant. CLASP submitted a set of recommendations to ACF based on the following goals to ensure that the partnerships meet the needs of low-income, vulnerable families:

  • Reach the Greatest Number of High-Needs Infants and Toddlers with Comprehensive Services. Early Head Start is designed to provide comprehensive early childhood education services to poor infants and toddlers. EHS-CC partnerships should reach the greatest number of vulnerable children, especially those who may be particularly underserved due to language barriers or immigrant status.
  • Expand Full-day, Full-year Services for Working Families. Parents need child care to go to work and support their families. Partnership funds should reach children in child care settings in order to improve access to quality care for those who need full-day and full-year child care.
  • Support Continuity of Care. EHS provides more continuity than child care subsidies because children who are eligible for EHS can remain in the program regardless of changes in parental income or work status. Continuity of care is extremely important for young children’s development and should be a standard practice for both EHS and child care programs participating in the partnerships; children should remain eligible for partnerships until age 4, regardless of changes in household circumstance and as long as they stay with the same provider.
  • Improve the Skills and Compensation of the Child Care Workforce. Most states do not fund child care subsidies at the level needed to support child care providers in meeting high-quality standards. Partnerships provide an important opportunity to offer increased monetary and non-monetary resources for child care providers serving low-income children and should include increased compensation for caregivers and access to education, training and professional development.
  • Implement Well-Planned Partnerships. It is critical that in an effort to reach as many children as possible in a short amount of time that the importance of planning and thoughtful execution is not overlooked. The first year of partnerships should allow for start-up time and resources to bring partners together to fully plan a successful model.

The EHS-CC partnerships provide an unprecedented opportunity to expand high-quality child care for low-income infants and toddlers. By designing the partnerships and the FOA with the above goals in mind, we can ensure that more vulnerable children and families receive high-quality early education and comprehensive services to help them grow and thrive. 

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