MONDAY, June 15, 2020 – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) Monday announced $4.1 million in renewal grants for three Head Start programs today — these grants represent the initial funds of a five year federal grant. The delegation also announced an additional $1.2 million in emergency federal funding from the federal stimulus bill known as the CARES Act, to support all seven Head Start programs throughout the state as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic. As vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy played a key role in drafting the emergency supplemental funding section of the CARES Act.
Head Start provides early education and comprehensive services for low-income families. Children who participate in Head Start programs are less likely to repeat a grade and more likely to graduate from high school and college. Research also shows that these children are 12 percent less likely to live in poverty as adults.
Currently, the Vermont Head Start and Early Head Start programs serve over 1,400 children and their families. Over the last three months, many of the early childhood educators who provide this crucial service to our children have been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis. Initially, these centers closed their doors to in-person services to keep Vermont families safe. This was the right thing to do in response to the worldwide public health crisis. The programs have worked hard to continue delivering services to families in a variety of new ways, including providing home-delivered meals and educational materials and offering support via videoconference. Now in the process of reopening, these programs face new challenges to keeping families and staff safe, including strict cleaning protocols and social distancing measures. The emergency federal funds will support these important early education programs as they support Vermont’s children.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: “While not nearly enough, the federal emergency funding announced today will help ensure our early educators have the critical resources they need to support Vermont families during this difficult time. We know that early childhood education programs like Head Start are instrumental in providing the intellectual and emotional nourishment that all children need. We are pleased that both the renewed grants and emergency funds will allow Vermont programs to continue their important work and we will continue to fight to ensure that all children receive the best possible start in their education.
“To all early childhood educators: the pandemic has highlighted just how essential your work is. We know this is a trying time and we thank you. You are helping prepare the next generation for success. As a nation, we must do much more to support your important work.”
Paul Behrman, Chair of the Vermont Head Start Association, said: “The Vermont Head Start and Early Head Start programs deeply appreciate the emergency funding provided through the CARES Act, as well as the five-year renewal grants for Capstone, CVOEO, and SEVCA. Without Head Start and Early Head Start, early care and education would be out of reach for many working families, and this will help us continue to provide services to some of Vermont’s most vulnerable families. We’ve all been greatly impacted by the current crisis and there is still plenty to do to support early care and education programs in their efforts to safely reopen. This funding will support those efforts for Vermont’s network of Head Start providers and partners, and the children and families we serve. We’re honored to continue this work, and we thank our congressional delegation, state and local partners for their support.”
The federal renewal grants were awarded to:
- Capstone Community Action – $1,838,352
- Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity – $1,469,074
- Southeastern Vermont Community Action – $869,505
Total CARES Act emergency funding to Vermont Head Start Programs: $1,270,034