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Headed in the Wrong Direction: Why the House Head Start Bill (H.R. 2210) Is Unlikely to Make the Program Better

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Publication Date: July 2003

Publisher(s): Center for Law and Social Policy

Author(s): Rachel Schumacher; Jennifer Mezey

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Social conditions (Public welfare and social services)

Type: Report

Coverage: United States

Abstract:

According to its sponsors, the main goals of H.R. 2210 are to close the school readiness gap between young low-income children and other children upon entering school and to promote collaboration and alignment at the state level between Head Start and other early childhood education programs. These goals are important. However, they are unlikely to be achieved under H.R. 2210.

This analysis describes a number of serious concerns raised by the Head Start bill, including that it would establish a set of significant new goals for Head Start programs without providing the funding that would be needed to meet the goals; reduce the federal commitment to training and technical assistance, a key part of any strategy to improving program quality; allow religious discrimination by faith-based providers receiving Head Start funds; and give eight states the option to receive a block grant without full application of the current Head Start Performance Standards, adequate accountability, or sufficient coordination requirements.

The paper also recommends a set of provisions for Congress to adopt to build on and improve the existing Head Start program.