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October 11, 2023

Rep. Schiff’s Head Start Bill Applauded by Community Leaders, Advocates for Early Childhood Education

Washington, D.C. — Representative Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) forward-thinking Head Start Expansion and Improvement Act has received support from a wide range of community leaders and advocates for early childhood education.

Schiff’s legislation would invest billions of dollars in Head Start programs, infrastructure, and workforce in order to provide critical, high-quality education, health, and social services to young children and families from low-income households.

“As a parent, I know just how critical a quality education and affordable child care is for working families. There’s no question that families across the country are facing a child care crisis brought on by high costs of care and low pay for child care providers. My legislation takes bold steps to tackle workforce challenges and increase investments in Head Start and Early Start programs that are key to the success of children and families,” said Rep. Schiff.

See what leaders are saying about Schiff’s bill:

“This proposal is an exciting innovation for Head Start. Expanding eligibility for Head Start by recognizing a families’ existing eligibility in other programs is essential to providing quality child care for working families. Head Start offers high quality emotional, social, health, nutritional, and educational services that support the healthy development of young children,” said Mary Ann Dewan, Ph.D, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools.

"Children and families in our communities in Santa Clara County desperately need The Head Start Expansion and Inclusion Act. Given the high cost of living here, too many children are shut out of the current program, and workers need a living wage. Employers will benefit with families having access to quality early learning and parents then able to work full time. We strongly support this important piece of legislation,” said Gregory Kepferle, CEO of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.

Head Start Expansion and Improvement Act could transform the lives of families who are working full time, yet make too much for current eligibility requirements, and too little to afford child care. Specifically, if passed, this bill would qualify California families of four making up to $95,100 annually as eligible for Head Start. It is our hope that our federal legislators will support this game changing and innovative legislation to expand high quality, early childhood education access to children and their families. We are grateful to Congressmember Schiff for this visionary leadership,” said Shawn Gerth, Executive Director for Educare California at Silicon Valley.

“Grail Family Services (GFS) operates several child care centers (including Head Start programs) that annually serve low- and very low-income children and families residing in East San Jose, CA. The availability and affordability of child care for these families is one of the most consequential disparities because it is the foundation for children to succeed in school and in life, and for their parents to achieve economic mobility. We serve one of the most underinvested zip codes in Santa Clara County, however many of the families we serve are not eligible for preschool services under the current Head Start guidelines. Raising the family income threshold will expand access to these services to so many of the families that so desperately need them. Child care issues impact all of us -- children, families, schools, small businesses, neighborhood stability, and overall economic prosperity at the local, state, and national level,” said Veronica Goei, Executive Director for Grail Family Services.

“When children participate in early learning programs, they are more likely to read at or beyond grade-level by third grade, they have a higher graduation rate, and are more likely to participate in higher education,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools. “Families often have to make challenging decisions when it comes to the expense of early learning. This policy change will increase access to quality Head Start programs for families and give young learners a foundation of success.”

Schiff’s Head Start Expansion and Improvement Act would:

  • Expand eligibility to include families with children 5 years old and younger who are:
    • Eligible for assistance under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
    • At or below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • Triple annual funding levels to $36 billion for Fiscal Years 2025-2030.
  • stablish a grant program providing $1 billion in annual funding to renovate, expand, and acquire program facilities.
  • Provide student loan forgiveness for Head Start and Early Head Start child care workers.
  • Establish a grant program to increase salaries for Head Start and Early Head Start workers.

Read the bill text HERE