New research shows child preventative health screenings are down, underscoring the critical need for Head Start

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Head Start program at Lynn Economic Opportunity Inc. in Lynn, Massachusetts

In the time of COVID-19, Head Start’s comprehensive approach to early childhood development is especially critical. Recent data analysis from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) revealed that this year, compared to the same time period in 2019, there was a significant decline in critical primary and time-sensitive preventative services for young children — services that, for decades, Head Start has successfully delivered to families and young children from at-risk backgrounds.

The data showed, between March and May of 2020:

  • infants and toddlers under the age of two received 22 percent fewer (1.7 million) vaccinations;
  • 44 percent fewer (3.2 million) child screening services that assess physical and cognitive development…

Efforts to Improve Teacher Compensation in Early Childhood Education Must Address Racial Pay Gaps

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The work of early childhood educators improves the social, behavioral, and academic development of young children, providing a foundation for success in school and in life. Yet, the early childhood workforce, predominantly made up of women of color, continues to be undervalued and underpaid. Inadequate compensation remains a formidable barrier to a strong and sustained early childhood workforce that can effectively partner with children and families.

The lack of adequate compensation is not a novel conversation for the early childhood community. Advocates in the field have been calling for fair wages for many decades, yet the problem persists. To fully understand the scope of this challenge and ultimately address it, leaders in early childhood must look more deeply at the lack of salary parity — equal pay for equal or comparable work — especially across setting and race.

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COVID-19 has created challenges for every community across the country, Head Start programs and families included. Head Start’s commitment to providing children with high quality early education, whole health and nutrition services, and other resources has remained strong, even as these new challenges have emerged during these last five months. NHSA has teamed up with Scholastic and the Clinton Foundation’s early learning initiative, Too Small to Fail, to meet one of the many needs of families — access to books at home.

The “Family Book Bundle” program was created to help families in under-resourced communities build at-home libraries while learning at home due to the COVID crisis. Each bundle promotes children’s early language and literacy development with six books focused on a variety of themes (physical activity, early math, nutrition, feelings, play & imagination, and diversity & inclusion). This resource was developed in collaboration with Scholastic and Too Small to Fail to fill the distance learning needs that Head Start families are facing as some programs continue to operate remotely this fall. …


National Head Start Association

NHSA is a nonprofit organization committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in life.

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