Head Start programs in Hawaii and across the country will now have to meet higher quality benchmarks, according to new guidelines announced today by President Barack Obama. These new benchmarks were established with the passage of legislation co-sponsored by Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), the bipartisan Improving Head Start Act of 2007.
"Hawaii's business leaders, educators, and parents know that quality early learning is a strong investment in our keiki's future and Hawaii's economic success," said Congresswoman Hirono, member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. "President Obama's announcement gives parents the peace of mind to know that their children are attending a high-quality Head Start program that prepares them for school. And taxpayers know they're getting the highest possible return on their investment in our children's education. I will closely monitor the implementation of this initiative to make sure that our Head Start programs are strengthened and receive the support they need."
In Hawaii, the federal Head Start program serves more than 3,000 children ages 3 and 4 from low-income families.
The Obama Administration's announcement will ensure that all Head Start programs meet school-readiness goals for children, demonstrate evidence of high quality classrooms, and maintain strong fiscal and management practices.
In addition to today's announcement, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced a new Office of Early Learning. This office will coordinate early learning activities across other federal education programs and oversee the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Competition. Congresswoman Hirono led a bipartisan coalition in Congress to establish the competition. Terry Lock, the State Early Childhood Coordinator, led Hawaii stakeholders in the state's effort to apply for up to $50 million. Awards will be announced next month.