The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee today unanimously approved legislation to reauthorize and strengthen Head Start, originally sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander and three key Senate colleagues.
“Head Start has been one of our country’s most successful and popular social programs because it is based upon the principle of equal opportunity, which is at the core of the American character. ” Alexander said. “I’d like to see Head Start expanded and serve more children but first we must ensure that this program is accountable, financially solvent, and meeting the purpose for which it was intended.”
Alexander, a former U.S. Secretary of Education, was the driving force behind an amendment to the bill that would establish 200 Centers of Excellence around the country to serve as model Head Start programs. Other provisions would: Require grant recipients to “re-compete” for their funding every five years to help ensure a constant, high level of quality; Clearly define the standards by which local Head Start providers will be held accountable; and Provide clear authority to Governing Boards to administer – and be held accountable for – the 1,700 local Head Start programs, while ensuring that parental Policy Councils continue to play an important role.
The bill was jointly sponsored with senators Kennedy (D-MA), Enzi (R-WY) and Dodd (D-CT).