By: Melanee Cottrill, Executive Director, Head Start California

Federal Advocacy  

2023 has been a year like no other when it comes to federal advocacy. The federal budget remains in limbo, with the Department of Health and Human Services currently operating Head Start under a continuing resolution which expires on February 2. Three dueling budget proposals leave Head Start’s funding for the remainder of the October 2023 – September 2024 fiscal year uncertain: President Biden has proposed a 9% increase; the Senate has proposed a 2.3% cost of living increase; and the House has proposed a 6.25% decrease. If Congress is unable to reach agreement, it is likely that another continuing resolution will be adopted for the remainder of the fiscal year, leaving Head Start effectively cut by the combination of inflation and flat funding. Such a resolution would have additional consequences.

Head Start California is working with our partners at NHSA to monitor the situation and take action as needed. There are three things you can do to help:

  1. Urge your members of congress NOT to cut Head Start funding in 2024 and beyond;
  2. Encourage your parents, staff and supporters, to send the same message to Congress;
  3. Join HSC and NHSA in Washington D.C. from January 22-25 to tell Congress, in person, how important Head Start is to our nation’s children.

Meanwhile, the Office of Head Start has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which includes the most significant changes to Head Start since the last reauthorization. The NPRM is open for comments until January 19. Head Start California will be commenting on the proposed changes – and we encourage you to do the same. We are focusing our comments around the concerns we are hearing most often, to ensure we are representing the majority of our programs. Thank you to all who provided your feedback during our listening sessions in December and January. If you are submitting comments individually, we recommend focusing on concerns that may be unique to your program. The Office of Head Start is required to review every comment submitted – your thoughts count!

California Advocacy

HSC’s state advocacy efforts continue to be focused on removing the ten-year limitation on Associate Teacher Permits. We are on track to introduce legislation that would do just that in the coming weeks. We are cautiously optimistic that this no-cost, crisis-abating solution will be popular with the state legislature. What we need from you – tales of what happens when an Associate Teacher’s permit expires. Please send your stories to

Telling your story to the state legislature is crucial to our advocacy efforts. We invite you to join us in Sacramento on March 12 for our third annual advocacy day. Reserve the bus now, pack it with as many parents and staff as you can find, and bring everyone to the capitol to show just how important Head Start is! And save the date for a virtual pre-session on Monday, March 4 at 3 p.m., where we’ll share advocacy tips and help you prepare for your time at the capitol.

Advocacy is truly about telling your story –you do not need to be an expert on politics. But, if you or your families are interested in learning more about advocacy, we invite you to join our friends at Every Child California for their free, five-session virtual training on effective advocacy, beginning on January 9. All sessions take place on Tuesday evenings from 5-6 p.m.

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