Over 70 Head Start staff, parents, and even children in late September travelled to Washington, D.C. to send a clear message to Congress: now is the time to invest in Head Start, not cut it. It was my privilege to accompany them, hear and share their stories, and advocate with and for them and you. This vital work was made possible by your membership in and support for Head Start California – thank you!
The National Head Start Association kicked off the event with an inspirational keynote from the Revered Senator Raphael Warnock, a Head Start alumni. Speaking to over 500 Head Start supporters from throughout the country, the Senator proclaimed that his time in Head Start “laid the foundation to everything [I’ve] been able to do” and announced his bipartisan Head Way Act. The Act introduces a mentorship program intended to ease the workforce crisis by “allowing Early Head Start classroom teachers to teach and earn their Child Development Associate credential simultaneously.” The Senator recognized that Head Start makes a “massive difference” for the children we serve. As a parent, he also acknowledged that many parents thought they would “just know how to be a teacher” until the pandemic, and honored Head Start teachers as true professionals. Head Start California will continue to work with the Senator and National Head Start Association on this important legislation.
After being inspired by the Reverend Senator and trained in various sessions, our contingent headed to Capitol Hill for meetings with legislators and their staff, including the incredibly influential offices of Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Adam Schiff and Senator Alex Padilla. Our ask was simple, although anything but easy – oppose the proposed 6-8% cuts to Head Start and instead enact an increase equivalent to inflation. We were heartened by the ability to connect with legislators on both sides of the aisle and their recognition that Head Start is an important program to our nation.
Visiting D.C. is critically important, but only one piece of the federal funding puzzle. You are your program’s best voice – make sure to connect with your Senator or Representative’s local office, invite them to visit your program, tag them in your social media posts, and show them the difference you make in your community, for their constituents, and for the country.
While we are federally funded, we also can’t overlook the impact state policies have on our programs. Make sure to mark your calendar for our state advocacy day, to be held in Sacramento on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Reserve the bus now to bring your staff, parents, and children to show our legislators how important Head Start is in California. I look forward to seeing you there! View more photos on Facebook.