Senate Democrats

Reid: With Proven, Lasting Results, Head Start Is A Wise Investment In Our Future

Washington, DCSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the Senate passed the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007:

“As we continue to invest in America’s priorities, Democrats today passed important improvements to the Head Start program – one of the hallmarks of our country’s efforts to provide low-income young Americans with a quality education and the opportunity to succeed.  We are investing in teacher training, increasing accountability and expanding income-eligibility limits to allow thousands more children to take advantage of this vital program.  Since its inception, Head Start has benefited more than 20 million children and families; this legislation will expand access and eligibility for tens of thousands of children in Nevada and across America.

“This is an important bill that I hope the President will sign.  However, his veto yesterday of the Labor-HHS-Education bill, which includes basic funding for Head Start, was discouraging.  We hope he will reconsider and recognize the importance of opening the doors of education for children across America and enact this reauthorization and expansion of the program.”



Highlights of the Senate Head Start Reauthorization Measure:

  • The Head Start Reauthorization Bill Expands Access In Order to Enroll More Children. The Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act ensures the nation’s neediest children are the program’s highest priority while increasing flexibility in order to serve children whose family income is just above the federal poverty line. By authorizing a total of $7.3 billion for fiscal year 2008, $7.6 billion for fiscal year 2009, and $7.9 billion for fiscal year 2010 the measure ensures tens of thousands more children access to the program. .[U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor Conference Report Summary, November 2007]
  • The Head Start Reauthorization Bill Expands Early Head Start Programs to Include 8,000 Additional Low-Income Infants and Toddlers. The measure expands Early Head Start by $83 million, which allows it to reach an additional 8,000 low-income infants and toddlers. In addition, the bill improves training and assistance programs for Early Head Start providers by ensuring training in infant and toddler development for all Early Head Start teachers, and calls for new standards for home visitors in Early Head Start programs. [U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, 11/8/07]
  • The Head Start Reauthorization Bill Helps Prepare More Students for Success in School. The legislation strengthens educational standards in Head Start programs to promote the development of language and literacy, math, science, and other cognitive skills, and ensures that such standards are updated and aligned to the latest research in child development. The measure also improves the transition of Head Start children to school through better coordination between programs and schools, shared teacher training, and the alignment of curriculum to state early learning standards and kindergarten skills. [U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, 11/8/07]
  • The Head Start Reauthorization Bill Enhances the Head Start Workforce. The measure allocates 40 percent of new Head Starts funds for quality enhancements, including salary increases for teachers who on average are earning half the salary of kindergarten teachers. With respect to education requirements of teachers, the bill requires all Head Start teachers nationwide to have an associate’s degree, half of all teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and all Head Start curriculum specialists to have at least a bachelor’s degree within six years. In addition, all Head Start assistant teachers must have at least a child development associate credential and be working toward completing a degree within two years. [U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, 11/8/07]
  • The Head Start Reauthorization Bill Ensures Head Start Centers Are Effectively Run. The measure mandates that failing programs provide a high quality early education program in order to re-compete for their grant, using an application review process developed by an expert panel which will consider multiple measures of program performance. The bill also allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to more quickly take funding away from poorly run programs and strengthens the monitoring of programs by improving the quality of the review team, requiring the inclusion of a detailed fiscal management protocol, and requiring follow-up site visits of deficient programs.[U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor Conference Report Summary, November 2007]