Head Start California is Calling on Lawmakers to Support the Programs Serving the State’s Most At-Ri
SACRAMENTO, Calif., - Today, Head Start California is calling for California lawmakers to invest in Head Start and Early Head Start, which provide school readiness and comprehensive services for at-risk children aged 0-5 and their families. California Urged to Include Head Start in State Budget
Photo Credit: Wikipedia These whole-child, whole-family programs are focused on poverty intervention, providing nutrition, health, dental and social services, as well as quality care and education programs tailored to meet local needs and priorities. In 2017, Head Start and Early Head Start employed nearly 24,000 people and served more than 100,000 of California’s most vulnerable children ages 0-5. Currently, California provides no funding for these critical programs. The Head Start community is requesting $20 million dollars in the FY2019-2020 budget. California Head Start and Early Head Start programs currently bring in $1 billion in federal funds. To maximize this federal investment and leverage the capacity of Head Start and Early Head Start to serve more infants and toddlers and their families as part of California’s system of early care and education, Head Start California is requesting $20 million in state investments for staff recruitment and retention, facilities and outreach to families who qualify. In the recently released Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education draft report, the Commission supports this approach, recommending that the state uses funds to expand Head Start programs to full day, full year; permitting Head Start agencies to receive MIECHV funding to support home visiting and; maximizing state receipt of Head Start funding. “These recommendations are clear evidence that Head Start and Early Head Start are a critical component of the California’s mixed delivery system. The state budget should reflect that. We are asking California lawmakers to support this proven, successful program by providing $20 million. With these investments, we can expand the capacity of Head Start and Early Head Start to provide more qualifying families access to quality care and services,” said Head Start California executive director Christopher Maricle. Background Access to publicly funded early childhood programs for infants and toddlers is extremely limited. Only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs; and most of these children are in home-based child care or being cared for by friends, family members, or neighbors. Infant and toddler child care in California is prohibitively expensive for many families. According to a Child Care Aware report, in 2016 California was one of the 10 least affordable states for infant care, costing on average 51% of the median income of a single parent. These families have difficulty covering the basic costs of housing, food, child care, health care, and other necessities. In all 58 counties, the annual salary of a full-time minimum wage worker is not sufficient to cover the basic budget for a single-parent family.