New Funding to Increase the Duration of Head Start Programs

Blanca Enriquez

By Dr. Blanca Enriquez

Today, I am pleased to announce new funding that will allow all Head Start communities to have access to full school year and full school day programming, and all Early Head Start families to receive continuous services. Congress has appropriated $294 million in supplemental funding for existing Head Start and Early Head Start programs to increase the number of hours and days of high-quality services offered each year to enrolled children enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. 

Strong and mounting evidence from research tells us that when children attend programs for more days and longer hours, they are better prepared for school and have improved outcomes. Receiving enough high-quality early learning experiences is particularly important to the success of the young children Head Start serves.1 Programs that run for fewer hours and fewer days may not have enough time to provide frequent intentional teaching in small groups and individualized instruction, or to provide necessary comprehensive services. Long summer breaks may also undermine the gains that children make during the program year.2 

About a third of Head Start programs already serve children in full school day and full school year programs. However, children in programs operating under Head Start's current minimums spend less than half of the time in the classroom than children in full school day, full school year programs. That's why I am excited that Congress has invested in our most vulnerable children by providing this funding. This will allow for all Head Start communities to offer full school day, full school year opportunities to at least some of their preschoolers. Furthermore, this funding will allow for all infants and toddlers in Early Head Start to receive continuous services.

Though the research is clear that the children we serve need more time in our programs, we recognize that it does not point to an exact threshold or combination of hours and days to achieve success. The supplemental funding announced today gives programs the flexibility to increase the total number of hours children spend in high-quality early learning experiences annually in a way that works best for their community.

Subject to appropriations, the funds awarded will become part of the grantee's base funding. To learn how to apply and to find out if you are eligible, please refer to ACF-PI-HS-16-02 Supplemental Funds Available to Extend Duration of Services in Head Start and Early Head Start. Explore more information in the Program Duration portal on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) website. This is a smart investment that will produce great dividends, not just for the children and families we serve, but for the nation as a whole.

Dr. Blanca Enriquez is the Director at the Office of Head Start.

New Funding to Increase the Duration of Head Start Programs. HHS/ACF/HHS. 2016. English.

Citations

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2 Sloan McCombs, J. et al., (2011). Making Summer Count. How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning. Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation.

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Last Reviewed: April 2016

Last Updated: April 22, 2016