11.14.07

SENATE GIVES FINAL APPROVAL TO HEAD START RENEWAL; MEASURE TO HELP LOW INCOME KIDS LEARN, ENZI SAYS

Washington, D.C. - The Senate has approved the final House-Senate agreementto renew the Head Start program by a 95-0 vote, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY),Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)Committee, announced today, saying the measure will help ensure that low-incomechildren are prepared - not only for success in school - but also for success later in life.With the Senate’s action approving the Conference Report on H.R. 1429, the“Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007,” a bipartisan bill that willimprove Head Start programs, “all children, regardless of background, will be betterprepared to enter school ready to learn and succeed,” Enzi emphad. “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 children can develop the knowledge and skills they need to learn andsucceed. This bill strengthens standards for Head Start teachers to ensure that Head Startprograms maximize the impact they have on children. I am particularly pleased with theaccountability provisions put forward in this conference report.” The Conference Report is similar to legislation introduced by Senator Enzi,Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Chairman of the HELP Committee, Senator Chris Dodd(D-CT), Chairman of the Children and Families Subcommittee, and Senator LamarAlexander (R-TN), Ranking Member of the Children and Families Subcommittee, andpassed by the HELP Committee. It sets clear standards and measures for Head Startprograms, improves coordination with other early childhood education programs, andstrengthens 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 agreement is an important step. Now we need to turn our attention toreviewing the effectiveness of and the need for the 57 other early childhood andpreschool programs that receive federal support. Head Start is an effective program thatdeserves our continued support – support that should not be diluted by competingprograms or new authorizations.”

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