November 15, 2007

CARDIN, MIKULSKI LAUD SENATE PASSAGE OF HEAD START REAUTHORIZATION

Maryland children to benefit from program expansion

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD), praised the Senate's unanimous passage of legislation that provides a record increase in funding for Head Start programs that serve the poorest of children in Maryland and across the country.

"Helping children succeed should be a priority for every American. I have been a long-time supporter of Head Start because it is a lifeline to our nation's neediest children and families, helping disadvantaged students arrive at school ready to learn," said Senator Cardin. "This reauthorization maintains the program's current strengths but sets the course a stronger Head Start workforce and for better access to critical programs and services for children."

"I am proud to support this bill that makes low-income children and families a priority in the federal checkbook.  It is good news for the more than one million Americans who rely on Head Start's comprehensive services.  This increased investment will allow tens of thousands more children to participate in the program who would be otherwise turned away because of inadequate funding," said Senator Mikulski, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.  "I'm a social worker.  I've seen first hand children whose lives were changed by a simple hearing aid or a good breakfast.  Believe me: it can make all the difference."

Head Start is a comprehensive child development program that gives children and families access to a range of comprehensive services, including early education, parenting resources, health screenings and follow-ups, and social services.  Head Start consists of two programs: Head Start (HS) and Early Head Start (EHS).  In 2006-07, a total of 11,842 Maryland children received Head Start services, 1,055 (or 9%) of which are enrolled in Early Head Start programs for children, birth to three.

There are 19 grantees in Maryland which receive $77 million in Federal funds and $3 million in state supplemental funds.  The state funds are used to provide extended services for Head Start children (e.g., summer programs) or for quality improvement, including continuing education for Head Start teachers to become degreed teachers.