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Capps Hails Boost to Head Start Program

{mosimage}Local administrators hear details of bill to improve young children's readiness for school.

{mosimage}Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, paid a visit to the Community Action Commission‘s Head Start Center in Goleta on Monday to announce the passage of legislation that will renew and improve the Head Start Early Childhood Educational Program.

Head Start is an educational program targeted at lower-income segments of society that seeks to prepare young children for school.

"As someone who has spent most of my life working with our kids in our public schools, I know firsthand the power and importance of Head Start for both our kids and our families," Capps said.

After a brief tour of the local Head Start program, located behind the Goleta Valley Community Center, where children were learning basics like potty training and the alphabet, Capps sat down with Head Start administrators and educators to discuss the renewal of the program, which authorizes more than $7 billion per year nationally and has been sent to President Bush for his signature.

"It provides much greater flexibility in order to serve more children," Capps said. Not only would it continue the 40-year tradition of early childhood education, the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, which received bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, also has enhancements that would change testing and reporting methods that have been considered inappropriate and ineffective for 4 year olds.

The act also targets teacher quality, said Capps, and half of Head Start teachers will be required to get their bachelor’s degree by 2013.

"That’s going to be a challenge,’ said Capps. "But it also will improve their professional capacities and it will also allow the Head Start programs to be deemed as on par with other teaching programs."

Moreover, the act also gives parents more participation and input in how their local Head Start programs are run.

"We are lucky here," said CAC executive director Fran Forman, adding that she was excited about the changes and the opportunity to meet bigger challenges in the future. "I think our programs are as high quality as any program that you can get."

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