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December 12th, 2007
Head Start Legislation Signed into Law

WASHINGTON , D.C. Today, H.R. 1429, the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act , which reauthorizes the nation’s premiere early childhood education program for low-income families, was signed into law.

Reauthorized for the first time in nearly a decade, the bipartisan legislation will improve teacher and classroom quality, strengthen Head Start’s focus on school readiness, expand access to Head Start, ensure well-run centers, boost coordination between Head Start and state and local programs, and enhance comprehensive family services.

“Head Start is our country’s premiere early childhood education program giving low-income and minority students the opportunity for future academic success,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, a member of the House Education and Labor Committee. “This is long overdue and I am honored to have been involved in the reauthorization of this legislation.” 

The bill preserved many provisions that Grijalva had successfully included in the two previous Head Start bills during the 108 th and 109 th Congresses. Grijalva worked to keep language in this year’s bill that prioritized Indian, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start funding, authorized a community needs assessment to evaluate minority population needs, required outreach services to Limited English Proficient children and their families, and disaggregated teacher data for the purposes of documenting the equitable distribution of services and teacher skill-sets across grantees. 

“Head Start programs have long provided the option of “opportunity” for families and children who face more barriers to economic prosperity and academic success,” said Grijalva. “Reauthorizing this law reiterates our commitment as a nation to continue providing opportunity for all, which is a cornerstone of America ’s democracy. I am proud to see this bill signed into law under our current House leadership.”

The Improving 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.

·          Boosts Coordination – Strengthens Head Start’s linkages with IDEA, state health, mental health, and family services. Increases coordination with state pre-k programs so that resources and planning efforts are shared and efficiencies are gained to better serve the families in the community.

·          Stronger Comprehensive Services – Places greater emphasis on early identification of child and family mental health needs and req

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