How one former Head Start parent brought EHS to her community

Sequatchie Valley Early Head Start caregiver (source: Christy Vandergriff)

Before Christy Vandergriff became Assistant Director of Program Operations at Sequatchie Valley Head Start in Tennessee, she was a single parent searching for work with an interest in early childhood education. With the support of Head Start, both personally and professionally, Christy has built a career in early education and is facilitating the same positive experience for another generation of children and families.

“I had gone to college but dropped out and I was a single mom with two kids, and I was working a factory job,” Christy reflected. …


Meet Malkia Payton-Jackson, Head Start alumna

I am thrilled to join the National Head Start Association as Director of Alumni Engagement. I attended Head Start in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it is where I met my first best friend. Interestingly, when you speak to Head Start alumni, there is a bond, a shared positive sentiment. We each have a memory that induces a smile or wistful glance. For me, it is that of a best friend; for others, it is a favorite snack, toy, activity, or teacher.

It is a bit of a mystery why Head Start evokes such a strong sense of nostalgia and connection. My…


May 2021

Transcribed below:

Hello, NHSA! It’s so great to be with you, Dr. B here, and I’m super excited to reach out to the Head Start and Early Head Start community every month through NHSA Touchpoint. This is a new way that NHSA is working hard to connect with you, and we hope you enjoy this different way of receiving some of our information.

A Love Note

Of course, we like to start with, I start with a love note, so I am going to send a love note out to Southeast Kansas Community Action Program and their neighborhood community health center for…


Booklist for children under 5 and the caregivers that support them

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month! Did you know Head Start and Early Head Start support nearly 32,000 Asian American children and more than 7,000 Pacific Islander children? Part of what makes Head Start unique is its impact for children and families in every U.S. state and territory, including 11 grantees on the islands of Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Palau, and the Northern Marianas.

Head Start’s diversity is what makes our community strong. This month and every month, we’re proud to celebrate the many unique AAPI cultures in our programs! …


Lessons from NHSA’s COVID-19 Vaccination Working Group

Above: Staff at NACT Head Start, OK

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Head Start and Early Head Start programs have gone to exceptional lengths to support children and families safely. Now that vaccines are more widely available, supporting our communities’ health through vaccination is an important next step.

In February 2021, NHSA launched the COVID-19 Vaccination and Mitigation Working Group to identify Head Start and Early Head Start programs’ needs when it came to supporting COVID-19 vaccination and mitigation efforts in their communities. In this working group, Head Start leaders and program staff were able to share their experiences, ask questions, and brainstorm ideas with their colleagues around…


Register for the upcoming NHSA webinar on May 13th at 1 p.m. EST for state policy leaders and advocates in and outside the Head Start community to learn more about the need for the seven below policies and how to execute these policy partnerships.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) is a welcome lifeline to millions of children and families adversely affected by COVID-19. In addition to greatly expanding child care assistance by $39 billion, the plan offers a once-in-a-decade opportunity to reduce child poverty and improve child well-being through expansions of health, housing, food, and cash assistance. …


Engage them!

By: Kent Mitchell, Director of State Affairs at NHSA

OR Gov. Kate Brown (D)

It wasn’t just a stroke of good luck when Governor Kate Brown of Oregon recently approved a state budget that includes $26 million for Early Head Start. It was the result of years of high-quality service delivery from Oregon Head Start and Early Head Start programs, awareness building, advocacy, and partnership work by the Oregon Head Start Association.

Although Head Start and Early Head Start are largely fueled by federal funding and regulations, governors are key to supporting program success or impeding progress. On a bipartisan basis, they have a growing…


The National Head Start Association (NHSA) supports Head Start and Early Head Start programs’ efforts to provide comprehensive services including health, nutrition, housing, school readiness for children, and job training for their parents and caregivers. Over the past year, in the face of COVID-19, economic destabilization, and a reckoning with systemic and historic racism, Head Start’s stabilizing services have been more important than ever. As we look ahead, more challenges will emerge, and Head Start will continue to be there for children and families.

NHSA’s 2021–22 Policy Agenda serves as a guiding document and an overview of the Head Start…


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…

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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