Congress Extends Head Start Provision Protecting Transportation Services
Washington- Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) will continue to benefit from a provision making it possible for them to provide transportation for Head Start children. The provision was included in the Fiscal Year 2006 Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Conference Report (H.R. 3010), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 215 to 213 on Wednesday.
Congresswoman Anne M. Northup included language in the bill extending the current option for grantees to waive federal regulations regarding bus monitors and child restraints, while continuing to abide by local safety regulations.
"Without this amendment, one-third of Head Start grantees from across the country, including all of Jefferson County, would be subject to duplicative transportation regulations. Some might have had to discontinue transportation services to children in the middle of the school year," said Congresswoman Northup.
Currently, Head Start grantees like JCPS must comply with state and local transportation regulations. Since Head Start is a federal program, grantees must comply with specific federal regulations issued in 2001. However, regulations requiring the use of bus monitors and seatbelts are contrary to state transportation laws and burdensome to grantees already serving pre-school children.
"This provision will allow us to continue to provide safe quality transportation for our Head Start children," said Marty Bell, Deputy to the Superintendent for Jefferson County Public Schools.
"Without this provision we would have been faced with the very difficult decision of not providing transportation for our Head Start Children and counting on parents to provide the transportation or providing what we believe would be less safe, more expensive mode of transportation and reducing the number of Head Start children we serve. Neither choice would have been acceptable. Representative Anne Northup has been a strong advocate for this provision in the bill, and we are very thankful of her support for safe transportation for our young children," Bell continued.
In June 2005, a bi-partisan group of representatives including Representatives Anne Northup, George Miller (D-CA) and John Boehner (R-OH), requested a Government Accountability Office report to study the affects of the Head Start transportation regulations on children's safety and the ability of grantees to afford and reasonably provide transportation services. Northup will continue to work toward a permanent solution to this problem.