Key Problems with Republican Head Start Bill

Title 1 – Amends law for Head Start centers in non-block grant states

Authorization Only Covers Inflation

• Bill authorizes a 2.9% increase in funding ($200 million); Labor-H appropriates only a 2.2% increase in funding ($148 million).

• This funding just barely covers inflation and allows almost no program expansion.  Growth is greatly needed since inadequate funding allows Head Start to only serve: 60% of eligible preschoolers; 3% of eligible infants and toddlers; and 19% of children of migrant and seasonal farm workers.

No Resources for Teacher Quality

• The bill makes important quality improvements by increasing teacher credential requirements but provides almost no money to increase teacher salaries or assist with teacher education.

• Head Start teachers make about half of what kindergarten teachers make so increasing salaries is necessary for Head Start to attract and retain highly qualified teachers. 

• HR 2210 provides about $400,000 for teacher salaries and education, over $340 million short of what is needed next year and 2 billion short of what is needed over the lifetime of the bill.

Decreases Money for Quality Improvements

• Under current law, HHS must reserve “no less than 2%” of Head Start appropriations for training and technical assistance (T/TA).  HHS spends about 2.5%.

• HHS and local centers use these funds to make continuous improvements in program quality and services.  For example, it is used to update teachers on best practices for teaching reading and math skills.

• HR 2210 decreases the set-aside from “at least 2%” to “1% - 2%” – this means $70 million in cuts for program improvements just next year.
Permits Discrimination in Hiring

• HR 2210 repeals longstanding civil rights protections for employees of Head Start programs operating through faith-based organizations.

• Allows taxpayer dollars to be used to support discrimination in hiring based on religion.

Weakens Federal Oversight

• Current law requires HHS to thorough review all Head Start grantees every three years (one-third are evaluated per year).  Knowledgeable HHS employees must directly supervise these reviews and conduct the reviews to the maximum extent practicable.

• HR 2210 decreases program accountability and federal oversight by allowing these important reviews to be entirely contracted out to non-HHS persons. 

Title II – Creates State Block Grant

Dismantles Head Start Program

• Creates new block grant program for eight states without requiring any of the federal Head Start program performance standards.

• Allows states to run “Head Start” programs with: lower educational standards; minimal comprehensive services; less oversight and accountability; no evidence that they do an equally good or better job than Head Start.

• Allows states to supplant federal dollars spent on early education.

• Deems state plans approved by the Secretary by default.

• Allows states to immediately de-fund current centers if they don’t meet the state plan requirements.