Last week the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held their first formal meeting with Congressman John Kline (R-MN) returning as the chair of that committee. As part of the committee start up, the majority staff released a discussion draft on Head Start reauthorization. In his release Chairman Kline said, “Congress has a responsibility to ensure this investment is meeting the needs of the vulnerable families we aim to serve, while balancing the interests of taxpayers. That is precisely what Congress did when it reauthorized with bipartisan support the Child Care and Development Block Grant program. It is my hope we can build on this progress by reforming the Head Start program, and the feedback from concerned citizens and stakeholders will help us move forward in that important effort.”
The white paper starts out by restating earlier claims regarding funding for child care and early childhood education programs arguing that there are too many programs overlapping with different requirements or categories. The white paper highlights the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) passed as a result of a bipartisan agreement adopted late last year.
The committee asks for public feedback on the possibility of reducing unnecessary regulations, encouraging local innovation and strengthening the coordination between Head Start and other state and local programs. More specifically the white paper asks, what role should the federal government play in promoting quality within Head Start? What steps can agencies take to enhance coordination? What innovation can states take to improve the quality of early childhood education? How can the federal government best support state efforts? What kind of information could the federal government provide to help parents understand their options under early childhood education programs? Head Start, created under President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, was last reauthorized in 2007. It is somewhat unique in its funding design as the funding is competed and provided directly between local communities/providers and HHS as opposed to flowing through the states. President George W Bush signed the last reauthorization after several years of debate on that Administration’s earlier proposals to convert funding into a state block grant were rejected.
The public and stakeholders should provide feedback by June 1. Read the white paper.