House Passes Head Start Bill with Hare Amendment to Help Rural Communities
The House of Representatives today passed the Improving Head Start Act of 2007, a bill to reauthorize and improve the Head Start program through Fiscal Year 2012 which includes an amendment authored by Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, to expand access to early childhood education for rural families.
"Rural communities in my district face a unique set of challenges when it comes to accessing Head Start," Hare said. "My amendment is specifically designed to eliminate known obstacles and ensure that rural families receive the same opportunities as their urban and suburban counterparts to enroll in this critical program."
Hare's amendment directs the Secretary of Education to remove barriers to professional development, parental involvement, home visits, and health screenings in rural areas. "We must give rural Head Start providers the resources necessary to hire and retain qualified teachers, effectively promote their services, and safely transport participating children," Hare said. "No low-income family should be deprived of Head Start simply because they live in a smaller community."
Earlier this year, the House Education and Labor Committee adopted two other amendments offered by Hare to give Head Start the ability to invest in transportation, expand outreach to eligible families, and recruit highly qualified instructors in rural areas.
Head Start is the nation's premiere early childhood education program and has served over 20 million low-income families in its 42-year history. Studies have found that children who attend Head Start enter kindergarten better prepared than children who do not. "I was proud to play a role in crafting this important bill," Hare said. "Plain and simplereauthorizing Head Start will help give more disadvantaged children access to the American Dream."