The National Head Start Association’s Year in Review

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. In the spirit of the holiday season, it’s not 12 days, but 12 months of NHSA highlights:


In what started out like a typical year, NHSA hosted our Winter Leadership and published a series of briefs on the Head Start Advantage.


In partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, NHSA released an issue brief on state investments to support Head Start. Later in the year, we released a second report on low and no-cost state solutions to supporting Head Start access and quality.


As COVID-19 took hold, NHSA advocated for additional funding to meet new costs, securing $750 million for Head Start in the CARES Act. We also launched weekly Kitchen Table Talks and curated an online resource hub, equipping the field with the resources necessary to navigate the onslaught of changes.


As Head Start programs served children and families in new ways, NHSA shared their stories, lifting up innovative examples from across the country.


Head Start celebrated its 55th anniversary! Our virtual event to celebrate the remarkable legacy of Head Start was made complete by Head Start parents’ transformational stories and well wishes from several U.S. Senators.


NHSA affirmed our commitment to the belief the Black lives matter and convened the Head Start community for critical conversations on Head Start’s role in disrupting systemic racism. We have continued these conversations through our Bias Busters Micro-Credential, work with our early childhood colleagues on policies to advance equity in ECE, and in NHSA conference sessions.


NHSA embarked on the virtual Head Start Directors Tour! Through these conversations with program leaders across the country, in addition to extensive surveying, we calculated the true cost of operating during COVID-19 and developed the Reopening Playbook.


After more than seven years of NHSA-led advocacy for the removal of several arbitrary and ineffective policies in the Designation Rule System, the changes finally came!


At NHSA’s Fall Leadership Institute, our third large-scale virtual conference, House Majority Whip James Clyburn shared a powerful message about equity and the role Head Start has played in helping America move towards justice and equality.


During Head Start Awareness Month, we launched The Academy — Head Start’s home for professional learning, which houses multiple credential programs to help Head Start leaders develop and improve their skills.


To celebrate the extraordinary resourcefulness and leadership of Head Start leaders this year, NHSA launched the 2020 BOLD Leadership Prize. We look forward to congratulating the prize winners at the 2021 Winter Leadership Institute!


As the year came towards a close, NHSA continued to fight for Head Start’s COVID-19 funding needs with an open letter to Congress and a big push from grassroots advocates, who sent thousands of letters and tweets. And to cap it all off, these efforts proved to be effective with Congress including $250 million in COVID-19 relief funds and an increase of $135 million in the final FY21 funding package.

At NHSA, we could not be more proud or humbled to work with you, the Head Start community. It is our honor to advocate for Head Start in Washington D.C., working to secure the funding you need to carry out Head Start’s mission. We thank you for your generous contributions to Dollar per Child that enable this work, and appreciate the end-of-year giving that will help us start 2021 strong.

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