Katko unveils bipartisan bill proposing $1.7B in pandemic relief for Head Start

U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) earlier this month introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide $1.7 billion in emergency COVID-19 pandemic relief funds for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Head Start program.

“By delivering emergency funding, we will ensure all children have the resources they need to grow, regardless of their family’s income,” said Rep. Katko.

The Jumpstart for Head Start Act, H.R. 8877, cosponsored on Dec. 4 by Rep. Katko and bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), would provide emergency federal funding to local providers of Head Start programs, which the National Head Start Association estimates will collectively see 20 percent in increased costs this year.

“These programs help providers in central New York administer critical educational and developmental support services to young children from low-income families,” Rep. Katko said on Dec. 8. “Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, many providers have been burdened with new costs that threaten their ability to continue serving families in need.”

If enacted, funds provided under H.R. 8877 would address any Head Start funding shortfalls and support the provision of resources necessary to safely conduct in-person instruction in compliance with local health guidelines and to maintain virtual and home-based services, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Katko’s office. 

National Head Start Association Executive Director Yasmina Vinci and Joseph O’Hara, executive director of PEACE Inc., endorsed the measure, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

“Regardless of location and size, local Head Start programs are confronting real increased costs for staffing, sanitizing and supplying PPE, ensuring classroom safety, and enabling virtual learning,” Vinci said. “The funding included in this bill would be an essential down payment on keeping Head Start programs operating safely throughout this crisis.”