Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus joins Assembly Majority Leader in urging lawmakers to support Head Start’s budget request
Sacramento, Calif. (June 9, 2021) – Today, a bipartisan, bicameral group of California lawmakers urged Governor Newsom, legislative leaders, and their colleagues to support state funding for Head Start programs.
In a letter led by Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes, 16 legislators urged Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, and Governor Newsom to appropriate $50 million for Head Start programs in the 2021-22 budget.
This follows Governor Newsom’s announcement of the state’s $75 billion budget surplus and a proposal to expand Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to all four-year-olds.
“[We] request your strong consideration and approval of a $50 million appropriation in the 2021-22 budget for grants to assist Head Start programs in building agency capacity, recruiting and retaining a growing workforce, and identifying more Head Start eligible families. Additionally, these funds would be used to expand services to serve more children and families and provide expanded, non-traditional hours of care,” said Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes.
The letter is signed by a bicameral and bipartisan group of lawmakers, including the Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, Assemblymember Christina Garcia. The letter makes the case that Head Start requires state funding and resources so it remains strong through the proposed TK expansion.
“As the Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, we prioritize issues that support women and families. Head Start and Early Head Start programs have improved child and family outcomes through comprehensive services. It’s crucial to support programs like Head Start in the state budget as the state moves forward with transitional kindergarten (TK) expansion. Over 90% of child care workers are women, and almost half are women of color, we must help these women navigate the transition as well. The $50 million in state funding will help Head Start programs transition to serve more infants and toddlers as four-year-olds make the move to TK,” said Assemblymember Garcia (D- Bell Gardens). “Our communities could lose out on the comprehensive services that Head Start programs provide and the $1 billion in federal funding to California every year for these programs if we don’t provide state funding to assist them with the transition.”
Head Start is a critical resource for California’s most vulnerable families and children. California has nearly 150 Head Start agencies operating over 1,700 sites across the state and serving over 100,000 children and their families annually. Head Start programs employ over 25,000 teachers and staff statewide.
Head Start is a vital component of the early childhood education system and without additional fiscal support, their ability to accommodate the state’s TK expansion will be jeopardized.
“The $75 billion budget surplus is an unprecedented opportunity for California to provide early childhood services to more families as soon as possible. We applaud the Governor and legislature’s commitment to increasing access to early childhood learning and care for California’s families, and support these sorely needed additional resources for our sector,” said Christopher Maricle, Executive Director of Head Start California. “To expand access to those who need our services and ensure that Head Start can continue to serve the thousands of children and families who rely on us, we implore the state to invest in Head Start.”
As referenced in their letter, this funding request is consistent with the CA Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission Report on Early Childhood Education, which specifically recognizes the critical role of Head Start in California’s mixed-delivery system and recommends state investment in Head Start.
Head Start California launched the Roar Back with Head Start campaign to urge state lawmakers and Governor Newsom to support their funding request. The requested $50 million appropriation will be provided to Head Start agencies in the form of agency grants that may be used to: 1) Support the 20% funding match required by the federal grant to build agency capacity, recruit and retain a growing workforce, and identify more Head Start eligible families; and/or 2) Expand services to serve more children in families and provide expanded, non-traditional hours of care.
Head Start California is the premier advocacy organization for Head Start agencies throughout California. Head Start California advocates for its members at the federal, state and local county-level ensuring that members speak with a unified voice about the challenges facing California’s most vulnerable families, and the Head Start community that serves them. By communicating with members, and creating opportunities for learning and connecting, members are increasingly engaged, unified and supported as they work to better serve their clients and communities.
Learn more at www.headstartca.org. Media Contact: Jamie Mauhay, 916-505-7450, firstname.lastname@example.org.