Current proposal could leave out 60% of Head Start programs, which serve over 70% of Head Start children and families


Sacramento, Calif. (June 23, 2021) – As the legislature and the Governor continue to negotiate the 2021- 2022 budget, Head Start California continues to advocate for funding so that its programs can remain viable and stable.

In his May Revision budget, Governor Newsom included a proposal to expand Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to all four-year-olds. The Legislature approved the TK expansion, modifying the timeline and staffing requirements. The Assembly Budget Floor Report on June 11 includes Head Start (p. 62) as eligible for up to $200 million in planning grants, a recognition that Head Start is a vital part of California’s mixed-delivery system.

In May, Head Start California submitted a budget request for a $50 million appropriation to local Head Start programs to build capacity and promote stability as California TK programs expand to serve more four-year-olds. Since then, more than 50 organizations and sixteen legislators, led by Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes, sent a letter in support of the $50 million appropriation to local Head Start programs.

Head Start California is calling for funding to be available to the variety of Head Start grantees – those that are located in school districts, county offices of education as well as those that are operated by community-based organizations, local governments, and Tribal Nations.

Over 60% of Head Start programs are not local educational agencies and may not be eligible to access the grant funding described in the legislative package. These agencies serve over 70% of Head Start children and families.

“California’s early childhood education and care system is extremely diverse. While we are grateful for the recognition that Head Start is a vital part of this diverse system, we also want to make sure that all of California’s Head Start programs will be eligible for this critical new funding, the funding is equitable, and it is available to all agencies providing critical early education and care services across our state, which not only include Local Education Agencies (LEAs), but many non-profit organizations, community action agencies, Tribal nations, and local governments, including two cities, a JPA and a county,” said Colleen Versteeg, Executive Director, Orange County Head Start.

Head Start is a critical component of the early childhood education system and without additional fiscal support, their ability to accommodate the state’s TK expansion will be jeopardized.

“With the expansion of TK, our Head Start programs will need help to serve more 3-year-olds. It is not like turning on a switch. Younger children require different facilities, resources, teachers, etc. To successfully make this transition, they will need additional resources. If not provided this help, many Head Start programs will not survive,” said Jerry Yang, Executive Director at Kai Ming, a Head Start program based in San Francisco.

Head Start is a critical resource for California’s most vulnerable families and children. California Head Start agencies operate over 1,700 sites across the state and serve over 100,000 children and their families annually. Head Start programs employ over 25,000 teachers and staff statewide.

“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.”

Head Start California launched the Roar Back with Head Start campaign to urge state lawmakers 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.





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