The House Committee on Education and Labor today unanimously passed two amendments offered by Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) during consideration of a bill to reauthorize Head Start that will directly benefit rural communities.
"Our rural areas face a unique set of challenges when it comes to accessing quality early education and my amendments seek to ease the burden on families in these communities," Hare said.
Hare's first amendment "provides technical assistance to address and remove barriers related to recruitment and retention of Head Start teachers for rural communities, and removes barriers related to outreach efforts to eligible families in rural communities."
"In order to give children in our rural areas access to the American Dream, we must attract the best and the brightest teachers," Hare said. "However, simply getting the best teachers is not enough. Rural families must also be made aware of the wonderful opportunities available to them through Head Start and have the ability to send their children to participating facilities."
His second amendment, co-sponsored with Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), gives Head Start the ability to invest in transportation.
Hare said that many of his constituents have told him that transportation is one of the greatest challenges they face in accessing Head Start programs. "We have a responsibility to ensure that Head Start has the flexibility to provide its services to every eligible family that wants it, regardless of where they happen to live."
Head Start is the nation's premiere early childhood education program and has served over 20 million families in its 42-year history. Established as part of the war on poverty, Head Start promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children in low-income communities through educational, health, nutritional, social and other services. Hare called President Bush's proposed $100 million cut to Head Start "shameful" and vowed to restore full funding when Congress considers the Fiscal Year 2008 budget this month.
The bill to improve and reauthorize Head Start passed the committee by a strong, bipartisan vote of 42-1.