Supreme Court Ruling Has Potential Impact on Head Start Programs
- Author: T/TAS at WKU
- Author: Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
A United States Supreme Court ruling on Monday, January 27, 2020 clears the way for the current federal administration to implement an expanded definition of “public charge” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Under the INA, all noncitizens seeking to be lawfully admitted into the United States or to become lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”) are required to prove they are not inadmissible.
A noncitizen can also be denied if it is determined they are a person likely to become dependent on need-based government assistance. Though public assistance has always been a factor considered by immigration officials, the expanded definition captures a larger population.
To be clear, participation in publicly funded early care and education programs – including Head Start, prekindergarten, child care subsidies, and home visiting programs – are not included in the expanded definition, nor have they ever been.
The Urban Institute reports “One in four American infants, toddlers, and preschoolers has at least one immigrant parent, and nearly all these children are American citizens. Because these children will make up a growing share of our future workforce, programs that support their health, well-being, cognitive development, and school readiness are vital to communities and the broader economy.” In addition, “If immigrant families opt out of early care and education programs or health and other social service programs, it could have negative consequences for their children’s school readiness and broader cognitive, linguistic, and social-emotional development.
This change has the potential to impact program recruitment strategies, selection criteria, services offered to families, and other program service areas.
Here are a few considerations for each Head Start/Early Head Start program:
- What kind of supports will families need if they are not applying for services for which they are eligible?
- Will current available resources and partnerships support the program’s ability to provide health, dental, mental health, and other services to families?
- How will this impact the entire ERSEA process?
- How many families within your program currently have at least one immigrant parent?
Krystal H. Lindsey, J.D. J. Christopher Watkins, Executive Director
Training & Technical Assistance Services (T/TAS)
Western Kentucky University