Assembly Majority Leader issues letter of support

Sacramento, Calif. (June 2, 2021) – Over 50 California organizations showed their strong support for state funding for Head Start programs.In a letter to legislative leaders led by Head Start California, they urged the lawmakers to allocate $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. 

The letter is signed by a diverse group of educational organizations — from the California Federation of Teachers to First 5 California — making the case that Head Start requires state funding and resources so it remains strong through this expansion. Head Start is a vital component of the early childhood education system and without additional fiscal support, their ability to accommodate this change will be jeopardized. 

“We applaud Governor Newsom’s commitment to increasing access to early childhood learning and care for California’s families, and we agree that a deep and permanent investment is long overdue. To ensure that Head Start can continue to serve the thousands of children and families who rely on us, as well as expand access to those who need our services, now is the time for the state to invest in Head Start,” said Christopher Maricle, Executive Director of Head Start California. “The $75 billion budget surplus is an unprecedented opportunity for California to provide early childhood services to more families as soon as possible.”

Demonstrating her support, Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes also submitted a letter to Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #2, Education Finance.

“One of my top priorities is to ensure we make critical investments in our state’s system of early education and care. This request is consistent with the BRC Report, which specifically recognizes the critical role of Head Start in California’s mixed-delivery system and recommends state investment in Head Start,” said Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes.

Head Start is a vital 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 takes a comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of young children, with 4 major components: education, health, parental involvement, and social service. They are nationally recognized for high quality, whole-child, whole-family approach, and a foundation of increasing racial and economic equity.

“Head Start was recognized by the CA Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission Report on Early Childhood Education as the gold standard in early childhood education and recommended state investment in Head Start. Head Start’s comprehensive services and community-based approach already provide wrap-around services for children and families that need it the most. We must not sacrifice this critical resource as we expand access to all children,” said Stacey Scarborough, Board President of Head Start California. “We appreciate the federal commitment to Head Start. California must do the same.”

“To truly have a California comeback, our families need childcare options that are flexible and convenient to meet their needs. Traditional TK programs are geared towards higher-income families that do not have the unique needs of Head Start families. The expansion of TK alone does not address what at-risk children and families need most. TK is a one-size fits all approach to a very diverse challenge of caring for our most vulnerable and at-risk children,” said Jamie Mauhay, Director, External & Governmental Affairs at Head Start California. “Head Start has the experience and expertise to serve our families with the resources and support they need to thrive and be successful.”

Head Start California launched the Roar Back with Head Start campaign this week 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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Learn more at www.headstartca.org
Media Contact: Jamie Mauhay, 916-505-7450, jamie@headstartca.org.

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