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This Black History Month, NHSA has been reflecting on the deeply intertwined roots of Head Start and the Civil Rights Movement, sharing the stories of early Head Start leaders who persevered to keep the program running despite opposition to its integrated, progressive goals. Now, as the month nears its end, we look towards the future and acknowledge the Black voices making history as Head Start champions today. From members of Congress to the new Office of Head Start Director, Head Start allies and alumni carry on the program’s Civil Rights legacy.

The new Congress is the most diverse in American…


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The Child Development Group of Mississippi, Head Start, 1965. Photographer: Bob Fletcher

Head Start was born out of the Civil Rights movement and the ties between Head Start and the Civil Rights Movement are perhaps most explicit in 1960s Mississippi. NHSA began this Black History Month with an exploration of the Child Development Group of Mississippi’s (CDGM) inaugural year, one full of obstacles but also strong Black leaders who persevered to bring Head Start to life.

As one CDGM teacher, Gaynette Flowers, wrote in 1966, “There was no way out before CDGM. For the children, CDGM has opened children’s minds and lifted the oppression of segregation from them. …


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The Child Development Group of Mississippi, Head Start, 1965. Photographer: Bob Fletcher

Often when we think about Head Start’s early history, we recall the White House Rose Garden Ceremony on May 18, 1965 in which President Johnson announced Project Head Start. But this was only the beginning. Following that historic day, it took the work of determined community leaders, many of them Civil Rights advocates ready to challenge the status quo, to build Head Start into the life-changing force we know. This was no easy feat. Launching an integrated, anti-poverty program at the peak of the Modern Civil Rights Movement was met with resistance in some communities, and we owe the leaders…


By Rebecca Scheurer and John E. Menditto on December 15, 2020

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This article was originally published by the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Resilience Center on December 15, 2020 and is reprinted with permission. The Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock) will reach One Billion People with resilience solutions to climate change, migration, and human security challenges by 2030. We focus our efforts on people, communities, governments, and institutions to help them better prepare for, navigate, and recover from the multiple shocks and stressors people all over the world face every day.

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected migrant farmworker communities across the…


The impact of COVID-19 in 2020 was felt by all children in the U.S., but took a particular toll on families living in poverty and children of color. From Day 1 of the pandemic, Head Start and Early Head Start stepped up, leading boldly to address growing food insecurity, innovating to support families at a distance, reopening programs with fidelity to CDC and state and local health guidelines, and working day-in-day-out to mitigate against childhood trauma.

COVID-19 continues to take a devastating health toll, even as vaccine relief is on the horizon. And we know that the economic ripple effects…


Not Even 2020 Could Slow Down Head Start

What a year. We learned that a global pandemic couldn’t slow the Head Start community down, we added our voice to a renewed call for racial justice, we remained united in our commitment to children and families through a divisive election season, and so much more. At NHSA, we missed connecting with you in person, but through the work we accomplished together, we felt the embrace of the Head Start family as strongly as ever.

As we look forward to brighter days ahead, we take a moment to reflect on all that happened in 2020. …


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Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

On behalf of nearly 1,600 Head Start and Early Head Start programs faithfully delivering high-quality, science-based early childhood education and family support services even in the face of COVID-19, I write to express concern that the next round of federal COVID-19 supplemental funding appears to exclude critical resources for Head Start and Early Head Start programs. In no uncertain terms, this will have a chilling effect on the ability of programs to meet the basic needs of children — nutrition, critical health screenings and assessments, early learning…


Three Takeaways from NHSA’s Science of Learning Series

In the first few years of life, children’s brains are developing at an astounding pace, making connections and building the foundation that will set them up for life-long learning. In Head Start, we know how critical this period of development is to prepare children for success in school and in life. Recently, the National Head Start Association (NHSA) held a series of webinars — the NHSA Brain Blasts — to educate the Head Start community on the science of learning.

The three-part series, moderated by NHSA’s Senior Director of Effective Practice, Dr. Bernadine Futrell, brought together renowned experts to discuss…


What we’ve learned from the Head Start Pandemic Survey

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Rockford Head Start/Early Head Start, Illinois

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, children and families all over the country have experienced a great deal of change. In some communities, children haven’t been in a classroom since March and have been navigating remote education. In others, children are back in classrooms with their teachers and peers, but with masks and new health precautions in place. And outside of the classroom, families are feeling the pandemic’s effects on their finances, mental wellness, and even their health.

What have we learned about how these changes are affecting children and families, and Head Start children and families in particular?

NHSA’s Parent Gauge team wanted to help Head Start programs understand how their families are impacted by the pandemic, so…

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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