The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Office of Head Start (OHS) at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), is awarding $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) funds to Head Start programs nationwide. These funds will help more than 1,500 local Head Start programs build back to fully operational, in-person comprehensive services this fall. This funding comes in time for summer programming for nearly one-third of Head Start programs across the country, and also supports vaccination of Head Start staff and families.
Highland County we received $290,750 of the ARP funding.
“We used that funding and offered a summer enrichment program (four weeks in June) to our Head Start children that were transitioning to kindergarten in the fall,” said Valerie C. Williams, director of early learning programs, Highland County Community Action. “We had 78 percent of our Hillsboro eligible children attend and 48 percent of our Greenfield eligible children attend the program. Overall, we had 41 out of 63 eligible children attend (65 percent). During that time frame, the children came Monday through Thursday all day and received specialized individual instruction which helped them become more kindergarten ready.”
“This is a critical investment to support our children’s health and wellbeing in communities nationwide,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we can continue to provide and expand services that so many American families need right now to tackle the pandemic’s impact. These funds from the American Rescue Plan Act will reach more eligible families, provide more comprehensive services, and support Head Start facilities as they begin providing in-person services again.”
The secretary toured the Martha’s Table Head Start summer program in Washington, D.C. Supported by ARP funding, Martha’s Table is helping children and their families be prepared for school in the fall by hosting a seven-week summer Head Start program. The program will support learning through a curriculum based on children’s interests and needs, field trips and other multisensory opportunities. It will also connect families with access to healthy food and other community engagement programs.
“ARP funds are supporting vaccination for staff and families, which enable the return to in-person programming across the range of services offered by Head Start grantees.” said Katie Hamm, the deputy assistant secretary for Early Childhood Development at ACF. “Head Start programs provide culturally appropriate vaccination information and dialogue with their Head Start families. Several agencies have worked with their local health departments to become vaccination sites, supporting vaccination within the whole community.”
The goal of the Head Start Forward campaign is to support grantees in reaching more children and families and moving toward fully in-person comprehensive services as local health conditions allow. Through the Head Start Forward campaign, OHS will provide guidance, resources, and considerations for program planning to reach more children and families and provide in-person comprehensive services.
Head Start programs support children’s growth in a positive learning environment through a variety of services, which include early learning and development, health, and family economic mobility and well-being. Read some stories about how Head Start programs are using ARP funds to build back better online here: https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/about-us/coronavirus/putting-covid-19-funds-work-examples-field.
Submitted by Valerie C. Williams, director of early learning programs, Highland County Community Action.