WASHINGTON, D.C. —-Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 (H.R. 1429) conference report by a vote of 381 to 36.
The bill reauthorizes the Head Start program through FY 2012. Upon passage in the Senate, expected later this week, the bill will go to the President to be signed into law.
“Passage of this bill is a culmination of three different versions of the bill through two different leaderships,” said Grijalva. “I am honored to have voted today in favor of the Head Start for School Readiness Act as it marks a significant step forward in preparing our neediest kids for a head start on life”.
Reauthorized for the first time in nearly a decade, the legislation will reinvigorate Head Start and help more children enter kindergarten ready to succeed. The bipartisan legislation improves teacher and classroom quality, strengthens Head Start’s focus on school readiness, expands access to Head Start, ensures that centers are well-run, boosts coordination between Head Start and state and local programs, and improves comprehensive family services.
“This bill was crafted in true bipartisan spirit and its passage highlights that working partnership,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, a member of the Education and Labor Committee. “This is a long overdue reauthorization, I am pleased to see this legislation build upon the important provisions included in last Congress’ bill.”
The bill includes many important provisions that Grijalva had successfully submitted during the previous two Head Start markups in both the 108 th and 109 th Congresses. Grijalva worked to keep language in this year’s bill that prioritizes Indian, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start funding to address the disparity of current services, a community needs assessment to assess minority population needs, and outreach services to Limited English Proficient children and their families.
“Head Start is our country’s premiere early childhood education program giving low-income and minority students the opportunity for future academic success,” said Grijalva. “Head Start children and their families receive comprehensive education instruction, family support, and health and nutritional services that enable them to succeed in school.”
The Head Start for School Readiness Act will:
· Improve Classroom and Teacher Quality – Increases teacher qualifications and directs the majority of new funds for program improvement activities, including increasing teacher salaries.
· Strengthen the Focus on School Readiness – Ensures all programs use research-based practices to support the growth of children ‘ s pre-literacy and vocabulary skills and improves professional development and classroom practices to better support children ‘ s cognitive, social, and emotional development.
· Expand Access – Authorizes total funding of $7.35 billion for fiscal year 2008, $7.65 billion for fiscal year 2009, and $7.99 billion for fiscal year 2010 , which would allow as many as 10,000 more children to receive Head Start. Prioritizes expansion for Indian and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start.
· Suspends and terminates further use of the badly flawed National Reporting System
· Tightens Accountability – Increases the fiscal controls used by Head Start at the Federal and local levels to better ensure Head Start funds are used appropriately and efficiently. Requires underperforming programs to recompete for their grants to ensure that underperforming programs are either terminated or quickly improved.