National Head Start Association Rallies on Capitol Hill
- Author: T/TAS at WKU
- Author: Thursday, September 26th, 2019
October is Head Start Awareness Month, and on Wednesday, September 25, 2019, the National Head Start Association kicked it off by sponsoring a Hill Rally as part of their Fall Leadership Institute and Capitol Hill Meetings. With a theme of Families Unite, hundreds of Head Start leaders, parents, teachers, and staff from programs around the country converged on the front lawn of the United States Capitol building in a visual show for Congress to understand, value, and invest in Head Start.
The rally featured speeches by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th District), Congressman Sean Casten (D-IL 6th District), and former US Secretary of Health and Human Services (1993-2001) and current Congresswoman Donna E. Shalalah (D-FL 27th District), each promoting the value and importance of Head Start programs in the lives of children and their families. As Rep. Shalalah said, “I am Head Start’s champion in Congress. There is no more important program to invest in than the Head Start program.”
“It is a life-saving project for the lives of our young children….I refuse to condemn them to the captivity of poverty for the rest of their life.” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
Several Head Start parents took the stage to speak of the program's impact in their lives, including a parent who came to America as a refugee. Through involvement in the Head Start parent programs, this parent took skills she learned to gain a position in a non-profit agency and also to be elected to her state’s Head Start parent ambassador advocacy program.
The purpose of the Families Unite campaign is to engage Head Start families in building lasting relationships with their members of Congress. After the Hill Rally, many of those families and staff members met with the Congressional representatives from their districts to share their Head Start stories of supporting the whole child and whole family. Additionally, they asked for their pledge to continue and increase financial support to the federal Head Start program.
For more information on how you can participate in the Families Unite for Head Start advocacy campaign, visit the National Head Start Association’s website. You can find the name and contact information for your Congressional representative here to share your Head Start story and to ask for their funding support.
(Image courtesy of the National Head Start Association.)
J. Christopher Watkins, Executive Director
Training & Technical Assistance Services (T/TAS)
Western Kentucky University