11.08.07

ENZI PRAISES APPROVAL OF AGREEMENT TO RENEW, STRENGTHEN CRITICAL HEAD START ACT

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member ofthe Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today said aHouse-Senate Conference Committee approved an agreement on the “Improving HeadStart for School Readiness Act of 2007,” a bill that will improve Head Start programs andensure that “all children, regardless of background, enter school ready to learn andsucceed.” “After many false starts, we have finally reached an agreement on thereauthorization of the Head Start Act,” Enzi said. “This conference agreement is abipartisan, bicameral effort to ensure that low-income children are prepared not only forsuccess in school, but for later success in life as well.” Head Start currently serves over 900,000 children and their families through anetwork of about 1,600 public and private agencies. “For many students, Head Start is the beginning of a lifetime of learningopportunities,” Enzi said. “It is vital that we set clear standards for this critical first stepto ensure that these children can develop the knowledge and skills they need to learn andsucceed. This bill also strengthens standards for Head Start teachers to ensure that HeadStart programs maximize the impact they have on children. I am particularly pleasedwith the accountability provisions put forward in this conference report.” The conference report on the bill, H.R. 1429, is similar to legislation introducedby Senator Enzi, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Chairman of the HELP Committee,Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Children and Families Subcommittee, andSenator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member of the Children and FamiliesSubcommittee, and passed by the HELP Committee. It sets clear standards and measuresfor Head Start programs, improves coordination with other early childhood educationprograms, and strengthens program accountability. “I want to particularly note the emphasis we have placed on the role of parents inHead Start programs,” Enzi said. “This conference agreement increases the presence ofparents in Head Start programs, strengthens services for families, and provides trainingand development opportunities for parents that serve on policy councils and governingbodies.” “This conference agreement is an important step. Now we need to turn ourattention to reviewing the effectiveness of and the need for the 57 other early childhoodand preschool programs that receive federal support. Head Start is an effective programthat deserves our continued support – support that should not be diluted by competingprograms or new authorizations.”

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Craig Orfield (202) 224-6770

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