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TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Head Start Association (FHSA) joined the National Head Start Association (NHSA) in calling on Congress to increase support to local Head Start programs that are helping young children impacted by the opioid epidemic.

Louis A. Finney, Jr. President of FHSA said, "Florida has seen a thirty percent increase in children entering the foster care system due to being orphaned by a parent(s) tragic overdose. Many of these children are Head Start students, who have experienced severe trauma and are exhibiting high risk, challenging behaviors. Head Start has partnered with behavioral health experts to address this burgeoning issue. There is no better place to not only ensure children are safe, but work with families in a committed, caring and holistic atmosphere than Head Start. Additional funding in our state is urgent to better provide Florida Head Start Grantees the resources necessary to train teachers to work with challenging behavior children, help enhancing mental health services for infant, toddlers and children and establish additional support services for parents who are suffering from this epidemic.”

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today called on Congress to appropriate $200 million in targeted grants to increase local Head Start program capacity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young children impacted by the opioid epidemic.

“For decades, local Head Start programs have been at the forefront of countless challenges facing children and families, but the opioid epidemic is stretching them to capacity,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “As the voice of the Head Start community, NHSA is calling on Congress to fully activate the potential of Head Start as a force for change in treating this epidemic. Rather than continue to experiment with abstract ideas—or eat up precious time and resources launching new programs—Congress has the opportunity to invest in Head Start, a proven, comprehensive, and community-based intervention that would help stem the tide of this life-destroying epidemic. Children caught in the turmoil of this epidemic need solutions now, and Head Start is a critical part of that solution.”

Dr. Bergeron explains how her experience as a public school administrator gives her a passion for school readiness. She also describes her expectations for Head Start programs to work with the public schools who will receive Head Start children. Look for coming information from the Office of Head Start on this aspect of school readiness.