This week, President Obama released his budget proposal for FY 2011, which included significant investments in early childhood programs. Building upon his earlier commitment to a comprehensive Zero to Five plan, the president proposed a 9 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start to maintain American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding levels.
Across California and here in Los Angeles, stimulus funding has already created new early childhood education spaces in Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms, and new jobs for teachers and staff.
At Good Beginnings Preschool in the Pico-Union area, for example, 15 more children have access to early learning and comprehensive health services, thanks to 5,000 it received from the stimulus. Thanks to Head Start, Aaliah Sandoval, a 3year old at Good Beginnings, can now count up to 10, sing her “ABC’s” and understand the daily routine at school, skills that prepare her to succeed in kindergarten.
Another preschool, Monte Vista Head Start in South El Monte, received more than ,000 from the stimulus, allowing it to add four new children to its existing classes. One of those children, 4-year-old Jesus Florez, has learned how to read his name, identify shapes and make friends. Monte Vista Head Start is part of the Mountain View School District (MVSD), which received more than 6,000 in stimulus funds, allowing it to create space for 54 more children and hire 12 new staff at sites throughout the El Monte area.
The Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) also received stimulus funding to expand its Head Start programs throughout LA County. With the 0,000 it received, it is serving 60 more children and their families this year, and has hired 15 new teaching staff, provided cost of living increases to many of its current teachers and expanded education and health services to more low-income families throughout LA County.
The proposed investments come at good time, as a recent study of Head Start in California found children who participated in the state’s Head Start programs were better prepared to start school. It also found children were more advanced in every level of development, including social skills, math, language and literacy, learning and cognitive and motor skills.
With President Obama’s proposed new funding, Head Start and Early Head Start programs around the state will be able to continue to increase access and improve the quality of their programs to serve the children in California with the greatest need.