BOSTON, Feb. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Proposals in Washington, DC to eliminate America's Head Start program threaten our nation's neediest children and families. Advocates fear dismantling of the longtime, effective antipoverty initiative that has put millions of low-income children and their families on the road to economic stability.
"The survival of Head Start is at stake," said John J. Drew, President/CEO of Action for Boston Community Development, the Boston-area antipoverty organization that provides Head Start services for 2,300 low-income children and their families in Boston, Malden and Everett.
"We are angry and frustrated at proposals surfacing from federal Cabinet officials, some members of Congress and conservative think tanks that will do irreparable harm to Head Start," he said. "Those recommendations will destroy this long-time effective program that is a lifeline to more than a million poor children and their families. The national commitment to America's poor children and families must not be lost."
"Are we going to sacrifice our children to growing the military in America? Do we really need to make that choice?" asked Drew, a former Head Start parent. "It may be time for Head Start children and parents to march in the streets to tell our new political leaders to stop this attack on the poor," said Drew.
Investing in America's future
Head Start serves more than a million poor children and families nationwide, providing comprehensive education, health, dental, nutrition and social services for children from birth to age five along with intensive parent engagement. The program has a documented track record of lifting families out of poverty and revitalizing communities.
A recent NBC national news report on early education cited Head Start's positive outcomes in low-income communities, including reductions in grade repetition, high school drop-out rates and teen pregnancies.
A 2016 study by Nobel Laureate economist James Heckman found that for every $1 invested in Head Start there is a $13 return to society.
"Head Start is a key element in closing America's inequality gap," said Drew. "But right now there is only enough funding to cover 40 percent of eligible children. It should be expanded, not cut."
Nationally, Head Start is an economic engine in distressed communities, employing more than 125,000 staff members, providing low-income parents with education and job opportunities, and partnering with small businesses.
Head Start has served more than 33 million children and their families since 1965, providing pathways to success in school and life. Yesterday's Head Start children are today's lawyers, doctors, business executives and elected officials.
Head Start parents are active participants in the program where they have access to special programs and receive education and training opportunities that enable families to move into the economic mainstream.
Early Head Start is unique among early learning programs in applying cutting-edge research on brain development in infants and toddlers to the needs of low-income families. Very young children receive care and stimulation proven to aid brain development and staff work with parents and pregnant mothers to promote understanding of those needs.
ABCD Head Start, a full-day, full-year program, currently serves 2,300 low-income children from birth to five-years-old and their families in 24 centers in Boston, Malden and Everett. Early Head Start at 12 sites supports infants, toddlers and pregnant mothers.
ABCD serves more than 100,000 low-income Boston-area residents with a wide range of antipoverty services and opportunities through its central offices and a decentralized neighborhood network.
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