News Articles

August 28, 2020

Children First Receives $10,000 Grant From Suncoast Credit Union

Suncoast Credit Union has awarded Children First a $10,000 grant to provide scholarships for at-risk children and families in Sarasota County. Scholarships are one of the agency’s highest priorities, creating opportunites for children living in poverty to make important cognitive, social and developmental gains so they are on par with their peers and ready for success in kindergarten and beyond.

August 27, 2020 

Head Start Cheers Final Rule Improving Quality Evaluation Standards for Programs

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association announced today that seven years of advocacy by the Head Start community for the removal of several arbitrary and ineffective policies has culminated in a significant regulatory change from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). In a final rule that will be formally published Friday, ACF makes three changes to the conditions used to determine whether local Head Start grantees have to compete for continued funding. These changes will not only provide a consistent, stable target for Head Start programs to work toward, they will also encourage programs to approach this work through a quality improvement framework, ensuring the highest level of quality for children in Head Start.

August 6, 2020

The Florida Head Start Association Announces New Elected Secretary to the Board of Directors

Tallahassee, FL., August 6, 2020 - The Florida Head Start Association (FHSA) is pleased to announce that the FHSA board of directors elected Ms. Mary Grace Romo as the new Secretary. Ms. Romo will serve out the remainder of the term left vacant by Mrs. Angela Doucette- Lyon.  Mary Grace Romo is the Supervisor of Early Childhood Programs at Pasco County Schools and has was elected to the FHSA board of directors in 2019 under the staff affiliate group seat. Since joining the board, she has served as chair of the awards committee. "The board is looking forward to working with Ms. Romo in this new role and appreciative of her dedication and support of FHSA", said FHSA President Kymberly Cook. 

August 4, 2020

Head Start Welcomes Introduction of the Head Start Extended Duration Grants Act

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded the introduction of the Head Start Extended Duration Grants Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, led by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D–OH) and Congressman Steve Stivers (R–OH) would provide funds for Head Start programs to extend their hours of operation, providing quality care and education for children and increased flexibility for working parents and caregivers. 

July 27, 2020 

Head Start Community Concerned by Lack of Support in COVID-19 Relief Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today expressed immediate concern that supplemental COVID-19 response funding legislation proposed by Senate majority leadership fails to include support for Head Start. While the proposed legislation includes funding to support schools and child care providers in reopening, it does not include the $1.7 billion Head Start programs need to avert a devastating funding shortfall.

July 14, 2020 

Head Start Community Appreciates Congressional Commitment to At-Risk Children and Families

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today commended the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations on making positive progress by increasing Head Start funding for fiscal year 2021, beginning October 1. The committee passed an annual appropriations bill that included a $150 million increase for Head Start, bringing the early childhood development program’s annual support from Congress to nearly $10.8 billion. Of particular interest, the bill includes a $135 million cost-of-living adjustment for Head Start staff and $15 million in additional funding for Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs.

“Head Start appreciates the bipartisan support that underpins this funding increase from the committee,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “The $135 million in additional funding backstops the critical work of over 270,000 Head Start staff members nationwide who have gone beyond the call of duty to support children and families during COVID-19 with home visits, virtual learning initiatives, food distribution, and so much more. The increase is a clear recognition that Head Start programs help stabilize and strengthen communities and families, especially in this difficult time of racial tension and pandemic.”

July 3, 2020

Children First Awarded $50,000 Grant From the McCune Family Foundation

The McCune Family Foundation has awarded Children First a $50,000 grant to provide scholarships for Sarasota County’s most economically vulnerable children. This grant will aid the agency in continuing to provide access to comprehensive care and education. Since 2017, the McCune Family Foundation has granted $180,000 to Children First through support of the agency’s Raise Your Hand Campaign and comprehensive services for children and families. 

July 2, 2020 

The grant will help Lutheran Services Florida serve at-risk children and their families.

Fidelity National Information Systems awarded a $100,000 grant to Lutheran Services Florida to update technology for the Head Start and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership programs in Duval County.

The FIS Foundation made the grant. In 2019, the foundation provided nearly $1.2 million in annual donations to charitable organizations aligned with the company’s giving priorities, according to a news release.

June 30, 2020

Early Head Start program working around digital divide

Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses, organizations and individuals have sought to bridge the gaps in daily life with technology.

But for the staff at the Early Head Start program in the Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy at Florida State University, technology isn’t a cure-all. Instead it’s laid bare the digital divide that exists amongst the state’s most needy.

June 14, 2020 

We can prevent another COVID-19 crisis if we work together

Through all the trials and tribulations of the COVID-19 crisis, one word has reverberated through this community: Together.

Shining moments of good have brought us together to provide support, protection and comfort to those who need it most – our elderly, our young, our immune suppressed, our health care workers and others deemed at greatest risk.

Working 20 years in the nursing home industry taught me the importance of prevention. Prevention is key.

June 9, 2020

The Florida Head Start Association Announces Two Newly Elected Members to the Board of Directors

Tallahassee, FL., - The Florida Head Start Association (FHSA) is pleased to announce the addition of two new members to the FHSA Board of Directors: Brigette Davis and Gloria Gonazlez. Elections were held June 1 - June 5 to fill the two open Director At Large board seats left vacant after the resignation of Mrs. Angela Doucette- Lyon and Mrs. LaKysha Perskins. The selected candidates will serve out the remaining terms of Mrs. Lyon and Mrs. Perkins with an option to continue to serve in this seat for an additional two more years should they so desire.

MAY 19, 2020 

Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis Recognize Foster Care Month in Florida

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis recognized May 2020 as Foster Care Month in Florida, bringing statewide attention to children and families in the foster care system, while encouraging all Floridians to continue supporting each other during the current public health emergency.

“Florida is blessed to have over 6,700 foster families that have opened their hearts and homes to 8,150 children and youth,“ said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Even in this time of stress and uncertainty, many families have committed to providing care for young people if they contract COVID-19 or they are exposed to the virus. That level of compassion and dedication is admirable, and as a father of three, I find it really moving.”

MAY 18, 2020 

‘Head Start’ Celebrates 55 Years of Learning

For more than five decades, the National Head Start Program has helped turn the graduation cap tassels of more than 37 million low-income children across the United States, instilling in each of them a solid foundation of how to thrive, grow and learn.

On Monday, May 18, 2020, Head Start celebrates its 55th anniversary, while the County program has open slots in registration for its 2020-21 academic year.

MAY 18, 2020 

First Lady Casey DeSantis Announces Nearly $2 Million Emergency Grant to Address Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Florida

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has received a $1.9 million emergency grant to address behavioral health disorders resulting from the current public health emergency. The funding, awarded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will provide crisis intervention services, mental health, and substance abuse treatment, and other related recovery supports for children and adults impacted by COVID-19.

MAY 13, 2020

Miami-Dade Head Start partners with education nonprofit Waterford to provide at-home learning during COVID-19

MIAMI ( May 13, 2020 ) — COVID-19 has affected all aspects of our lives. Many children in need of an early education have found themselves at home without an option in the crucial months before they begin kindergarten. In order to make sure children are prepared for that first day of school this fall, Miami-Dade Head Start is partnering with Waterford.org to provide the Waterford Upstart Summer Learning Path.
The goal: to keep kids on track over the summer. This program aims to support the students and families who have been affected by COVID-19 either through personal economic hardship or due to the indefinite closure of many PreK and Head Start options.

MAY 1, 2020 

'It’s a happiness I can’t even describe': Immokalee farmworkers have rents covered, receive supplies

Uust as the heavy rains began to calm down, the families arrived. One by one and far apart, each person wearing a mask. Some walked while others were dropped off by organizers with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. Eight families gathered Thursday afternoon at the association's campus in Immokalee by a 24-foot enclosed trailer filled with supplies to help them get through the month.

MAY 1, 2020 

Department of Children and Families Announces Faith-Based Partnerships Supporting Florida’s Child Welfare System

TALLAHASSEE, Fla – Today, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced multiple partnerships with faith-based organizations that are supporting Florida’s child welfare system during the current public health emergency. Established in coordination with Erik Dellenback, the Governor’s Faith and Community Based Liaison, and the Florida Coalition for Children (FCC), and DCF, these partnerships will extend specifically to children in foster care.

APRIL 14, 2020

HHS’ Administration for Children and Families to Release Funding to Support the Child Care and Development Block Grant

COVID-19 spending bill gives an additional $3.5 billion to the Child Care and Development Block Grant to support families with child care options during this public health crisis.

On March 27, the President signed a $2 trillion emergency relief bill aimed at providing economic relief to the nation’s families, workers, and businesses. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will provide the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) with $6.3 billion in additional funding that will aid in the continuation of work protecting, supporting, and uplifting our vulnerable communities during this public health crisis.

“President Trump has secured more than $6 billion in funding to help meet the needs of America’s most vulnerable during this time of crisis, including those who need assistance affording child care,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “As part of the President’s all-of-America approach to combating the coronavirus, ACF is providing extra support for human services that Americans—including healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential workers—may rely on even more in this time of crisis.”

APRIL 14, 2020 

USDA Approves Florida’s Request to Launch Online Grocery Purchase Pilot Program

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced Florida will pilot a program for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to purchase groceries online with the use of an EBT card. SNAP participants are automatically eligible to participate in this program and do not need to apply.

“Removing barriers and enhancing access to critical services, while supporting Florida's infrastructure, remains a top priority for this agency, " said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “I commend Governor DeSantis for taking yet another proactive action to equip Florida families with resources, while keeping their health and safety at the forefront. This is an innovative, common sense efficiency that will strengthen our families during this time of uncertainty."

APRIL 10, 2020 

Florida Requests Waiver to Allow Families to Purchase Groceries Online

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to begin developing plans to implement an online purchasing program for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. On Friday, April 10, 2020, DCF requested a federal waiver to permit the State of Florida to launch a pilot project that will allow Florida families to purchase groceries online with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.

“After executing Executive Order 20-91 to limit outside activities to essential services, this commonsense policy approach is a no brainer,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Allowing Florida families to purchase groceries online instead of venturing into a public store is a sound practice during this public health emergency and yet another step that will help Florida flatten the curve.”

MARCH 26, 2020 

Head Start Welcomes Infusion of $750 Million to Shore Up Services Impacted by COVID-19

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association welcomed Senate passage of legislation to help Americans weather the immediate and economic impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  The House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill in a couple of days. NHSA advocated for significant funding to help Head Start programs meet additional staffing needs, including those related to expanding operations later this year when the demand for services is expected to increase.  NHSA also applauded funding included in the bill that will help stabilize the networks that are critical to Head Start children and families, including support for child care, nutrition, housing security, and the unemployed.

MARCH 24, 2020 

LSF Duval Head Start Announces Virtual Classrooms During Health Crisis 

Jacksonville, Fla. –As the country faces a health pandemic, social services organization like Lutheran Services Florida, is adapting its critical services to the most vulnerable Floridians. Following guidance from Federal and State officials to control the spread of coronavirus by practicing social distancing, LSF Duval Head Start yesterday launched a virtual learning program for our families. We are excited to report 65 percent participation among Head Start/Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships families in Duval County.

Leveraging ReadyRosie, a technology platform that enables educators to communicate with families and share early education content, LSF Duval Head Start is now providing remote learning to more than 1,400 children and families during this unprecedented time. Our Head Start programs were previously using ReadyRosie to help parents engage with their children and continue learning outside traditional classroom hours so with a few simple adjustments we were able to shift the focus to fit the new need.

MARCH 20, 2020

Florida Department of Education Announces Additional Guidance for the 2019-20 School Year
All public and private K-12 schools are closed through April 15, 2020 

Tallahassee, Fla., The Department of Education and Commissioner Richard Corcoran are using executive authority to support the Florida Division of Emergency Management to ensure Florida citizens are kept safe.

“The containment of COVID-19 is essential, and this is not a decision we made lightly. Districts have taken action and have instituted distance learning as a necessary precaution to protect students, educators, families, and Florida’s overall public health,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “We are working with our local school districts to provide guidance and help children who need access to food during this time. Our number one priority is keeping our families safe and healthy and stopping the spread of this virus. These actions will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Florida. I will continue to work with the Governor, Superintendents, Florida College System and the State University System to do whatever we can to protect our children, our families, and our communities.”

MARCH 19, 2020 

Coronavirus: Head Start programs shut down through at least April 15

Lutheran Services Florida’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs have been shut down in Jacksonville due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The program, which serves about 6,000 children and families in Duval, Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties, is preparing remote education programs for its students in need.

“Our teachers and staff may not be in the classrooms, but they are still connecting with parents and serving as a resource,” the Tampa-based program’s officials said. “Our educational leaders are designing remote learning plans and strategizing around the challenges that brings for families without computers, the internet and food while they are out of the classrooms.”

MARCH 18, 2020

DCF SAFEGAURDS CLIENTS AND EMPLOYEES BY CLOSING STOREFRONTS

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) temporarily closed all storefronts and lobbies to safeguard the public and employees from the spread of COVID-19. While these facilities are used to serve customers of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid programs, the department continues to use technology to ensure continuity of service.

FEBRUARY 11, 2019

Preschool Development Birth to Five- Renewal Grant

We are pleased to share that Florida was selected as one of 20 states to receive the Preschool Development Birth to Five Renewal Grant (PDG-R). Through the initial Preschool Development Birth to Five grant, Florida has been working to implement measures that build on existing framework and infrastructure to increase the quality, alignment, and efficiency of Florida's early childhood care and education mixed-delivery system of programs and services.

JANUARY 30, 2020 

RCMA Receives Grant from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

RCMA announced that it received a $125,000 grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to strengthen communication efforts related to RCMA and its immigration family support program.

With the funding, RCMA will train staff, board members, alumni, students, and their parents as community ambassadors to tell their stories and discuss how RCMA, by helping families, improves education outcomes for children of immigrants.

Established in 1965, RCMA is Florida’s largest nonprofit provider of quality early childhood education and family-support services. RCMA serves people in rural areas living in poverty, primarily migrant and agriculture working families. RCMA operates 66 child development centers and three charter schools, and partners with 19 family childcare homes and several after-schools care programs in 21 Florida counties.

JANUARY 24, 2020 

First Lady Casey DeSantis Announces 8,000 Reading Scholarships Available to Help Students Enhance Skills

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis urged Florida parents and schools to take advantage of more than 8,000 Reading Scholarships available through the Florida Department of Education to help public school students in grades 3-5 improve their reading skills. First Lady DeSantis said that more than 5,600 students and their parents have already taken advantage of these Reading Scholarships during the current school year.

First Lady DeSantis also announced that ABCmouse will be launching a pilot program for their Mastering Math app and will soon announce the launch of their Mastering Reading app. Both pilots, which allow students to learn basic skills at their own pace, will be offered at no cost to Florida students in prekindergarten through second grade.

JANUARY 20, 2020

Children First welcomes new slate of board leadership for 2020

Children First, Inc., the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services in Sarasota County, is excited to welcome the new slate of board leadership for 2020.

Lisa Giglio is the former co-owner of Freedom Boat Club, and has served as an early childhood educator and director of education at Sylvan Learning Center. Michael Suarez, former executive director of Sarasota County Emergency Services, is also a life member, past president, and current treasurer of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Both have been named to the Board of Directors for 2020.

Both Mrs. Giglio and Mr. Suarez bring a great deal of governance experience, knowledge and expertise in the field of human services to Children First. They join the rest of the board in serving as pillars of support by helping the agency continue to provide the highest quality of services to those most in need in our community.

JANUARY 14, 2020

DCF Secretary Chad Poppell Applauds Governor DeSantis’ Commitment to Mental Health and Child Welfare Reform

Tallahassee, FL – Today, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Chad Poppell applauded Governor DeSantis’ commitment to mental health and child welfare reform.

During his State of the State address, the Governor emphasized the need for access to timely, meaningful mental health services, underscoring the work of the First Lady’s Hope for Healing initiative.

“Governor DeSantis is taking action and creating meaningful change for Florida’s families,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “With his and the First Lady’s leadership, as well as support from the Legislature, we can redefine child welfare and establish a performance-driven system that promotes transparency and improves outcomes for our state’s most vulnerable citizens – our children.”

DECEMBER 30, 2019

Children First receives thousands in grants

The Harry Sudakoff Foundation has recently awarded $20,000 in support of scholarships to Children First, the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services in Sarasota County.

The agency also received $15,000 from the Bernard & Mildred Doyle Charitable Trust, $10,000 from the Evalyn Sadlier Jones Foundation and $750 from the India Benton Lesser Foundation for scholarships; while $1,000 from the Heron Creek Community Foundation will help to fund a variety of classes through the Families First Institute in North Port.

DECEMBER 20, 2019

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Over $63 Million in Additional Funding for Disaster Recovery Available to Floridians Impacted by Hurricane Michael

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida has been awarded an additional $63.2 million in federal disaster funding through the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) to restore educational programs in counties affected by Hurricane Michael. The $63.2 million in funding includes $44.2 million under the Immediate Aid to Restart School Operations (K-12 Restart) program, $2.6 million for postsecondary education, and $6.3 million for Emergency Impact Aid.

“Since day one of my administration, we have used every resource at our disposal to ensure Northwest Florida completely rebuilds from Hurricane Michael,” said Governor DeSantis. “I’m grateful that we have been able to work with Secretary Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education to secure these additional funds that will provide much needed relief to local students and families who deserve to return to normalcy after Hurricane Michael. For the many families, educators, and schools who are still recovering from this storm, I can assure you that we are working every day to make sure you and your community recovers.”

DECEMBER 19, 2019

Head Start Thanks Champions in Congress for Historic Investment in Children and Families

WASHINGTON, DC, December 19, 2019 – Following passage today in the U.S. Senate of the final fiscal year 2020 spending bill, the National Head Start Association thanked members of Congress from both parties for their steadfast support throughout the year in championing this historic investment in America’s most vulnerable children and families.

“Head Start has many champions on both sides of the aisle, but we would not be here without the amplifying work of many elected officials, most specifically Senators Dick Durbin (D - IL), Shelley Moore Capito (R - WV), Roy Blunt (R - MO), Patty Murray (D - WA), and the lifetime work of Representatives Nita Lowey (D- NY), Rosa DeLauro (D - CT), Tom Cole (R - OK), Steve Stivers (R - OH), and Chuck Fleischmann (R - TN) in support of young children and their families,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said.
DECEMBER 19, 2019
A Great Start: Orange County Employee Credits Head Start with Family Success
Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed in life, and Orange County Head Start helps to provide those opportunities to local residents. One Orange County employee, Lourdes Ramos, can personally attest to the benefits the program provides.

Lourdes, senior community services worker with Orange County Community and Family Services Division, moved from Puerto Rico to Orlando with her then-husband Hector, in 1991. They immediately enrolled their two small children, Yesenia and Hector Jr., in Orange County Head Start. Lourdes got involved with the program as a volunteer and has since served in various capacities, including as a teacher, a social worker and currently as a Disability and Mental Health Coordinator. She credits the program not only with her success but also the success of her children.

DECEMBER 17, 2019 
NHSA Applauds Bipartisan Support in Congress for Historic Investment in Children and Families
WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded Congress’s proposed historic investment in Head Start, as detailed in the annual spending bill that would fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2020.  The bill, which is the result of negotiations between both the House of Representatives and the Senate, includes a record-setting $10.6 billion for the early childhood development program for at-risk infants, young children, and their families. The bipartisan agreement also dedicates $250 million in new resources to expanding Head Start’s ability to provide trauma-informed care to the increasing number of children experiencing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), responding to recommendations NHSA’s Opioid Working Group first laid out in the 2018 report, “A Head Start on Treating Our Nation’s Opioid Epidemic.” 

"The Head Start community applauds Congress’ unified commitment to strengthening and expanding the impact of Head Start for our nation’s most at-risk children and families,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “This historic investment shows that both Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress are serious about expanding Head Start's ability to meet the needs of America's most vulnerable children.”

NOVEMBER 18, 2019 

Statement from DCF Secretary Chad Poppell on Governor Ron DeSantis’ Bolder, Brighter, Better Future Budget Recommendations

Tallahassee, FL – Today, Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Chad Poppell issued the following statement on Governor Ron DeSantis’ Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget recommendations for FY 2020-21.

“Governor DeSantis’ budget recommendations prove his unwavering commitment to Florida’s children and his bold, transformative vision for the future of our state. The department is grateful for his leadership and the First Lady’s ongoing support as we transform from a crisis response organization to one that is fundamentally focused on prevention,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “In partnership with Florida’s child welfare stakeholders, DCF will implement a strong system of accountability and optimal funding for all of our community-based care lead agencies, ultimately achieving the department’s goal of reducing the number of families in crisis by 20 percent by Summer 2021.”

NOVEMBER 8, 2019 

The Florida Head Start Association Announces Seven State Recipients Advance as Region Winners

TALLAHASSEE, FL – November 8, 2019 -The Florida Head Start Association (FHSA) is pleased to announce seven of their 2020 FHSA Annual Award recipients have received region recognition from the Region IV Head Start Association (RIVHSA).

State award winners were honored during the FHSA Annual Awards Luncheon in Daytona Beach, FL, on October 11, 2019. The FHSA Annual Awards promote excellence in the Head Start/Early Head Start community through recognition of employers, parents, alumni, volunteers, and partners who have made extraordinary contributions to their programs and exemplifies the highest quality of standards in their communities. Award winners serve as inspirational leaders to FHSA; they embody the core values of serving children and families and being committed to Head Start. The state winners advanced as Region finalists in their categories. Four FHSA State award recipients will be recognized at the RIVHSA 2020 Awards gala on February 20, 2020, in Atlanta, GA.

 

OCTOBER 21, 2019 

Children First named a Best Place to Work

Children First has been recognized as one of the top 30 employers in Sarasota-Manatee in the “Best Places to Work” competition. Hosted by independent firm Best Companies Group and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the competition identifies and recognizes the area’s top employers who demonstrate workplace excellence and are known for retaining and recruiting the best and brightest employees.

OCTOBER 11, 2019

The Florida Head Start Association Announces State Award Winners, Region, and National Award Finalist

TALLAHASSEE, FL – October 11, 2019 – The Florida Head Start Association (FHSA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 FHSA Annual Awards:
Parent of the Year – Maritza Vasquez from Orange County Head Start, Orlando
Beating the Odds – Sharlene Singleton from Episcopal Children’s Services, Jacksonville
Teacher of the Year – Jennine Nolan from Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start, Tampa
Staff of the Year – Indra Font from Polk County Public Schools Head Start, Lakeland
Support Staff of the Year – Parameshwari “Rani” Panchanathan from Miami- Dade Community Action and Human Services Department, Head Start/Early Head Start, Miami
Scholarship for Head Start/Early Head Start Staff, Higher Education – Princess Ortiz from Orange County Head Start, Orlando
Corporate Award – Smart City, Orlando

The state award winners were honored during the FHSA Annual Awards Luncheon in Daytona Beach, FL on October 11, 2019.

OCTOBER 02, 2019

Florida Department of Education Announces Florida Standards Listening Tour

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., October 1, 2019 – Today, Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced the Florida Standards Listening Tour dates and locations. The department also released the second draft of the revised standards for public input. The revised draft was crafted based on feedback the Department of Education received over the last several months from Florida teacher experts, national experts and the education community. In addition to the listening tour, the public can submit feedback on each of the second draft standards individually at www.floridastandardsreview.org or email at [email protected].

SEPTEMBER 19, 2019

Franklin Johnson promoted to Head Start director, replacing Natalie Sanders

Franklin Johnson has been hired as the new director of Head Start, according to the Economic Opportunities Council of Indian River County. Johnson, who will start Oct. 1, succeeds Natalie Sanders, who is retiring.

“We are confident that his considerable experience and leadership will continue to serve the agency well, as he and the management teamwork to strategically grow and continually improve our educational programs,” said Angela Davis-Green, EOC’s executive director.

Head Start is a holistic early childhood education program for children and families living at or near the poverty level.

“As the agency’s Early Childhood Education specialist for the last five years, Mr. Johnson has been instrumental in our education program’s growth and success,” said Sanders.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2019

The Florida Head Start Association Announces Seven Newly Elected Members to the Board of Directors

Tallahassee, FL., September 13, 2019 - The Florida Head Start Association (FHSA) is pleased to announce the addition of seven new members to the FHSA Board of Directors: Sonya Hill, Angela Iudica, Dr. Maria Riestra-Quintero, Mary Grace Sabella Romo, Angel Maldonado, Cindy Kaier, and Janet Ranaldi. Elections were held August 15 - August 22 to fill the three open Regional Director and 4 Director-At-Large Seats. These board seats are for a two-year term.

The membership elects directors from a slate of self- nominations and vetted by the Nominating Committee in advance of the election to ensure a fair representation of the association and skills.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2019 

Florida 4th in the Nation for K-12 Student Achievement

Tallahassee, Fla., – Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced that Florida remains ranked 4th in the nation for K-12 student achievement, according to Education Week’s Quality Counts 2019 report. The annual report compares state-by-state data and trends related to achievement levels, achievement gains, poverty gap, achieving excellence, high school graduation and Advanced Placement.

“Maintaining a top national ranking for student achievement for the second year in a row is a testament to our educators and students,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “The investments and policy changes we made this year in education will only continue to ensure our students’ success, regardless of income or zip code.”

HEAD START going through a transition phase

SEPTEMBER 11, 2019

The national Head Start program is changing, but the Alachua County School District’s Head Start program has tools to meet the changes.

Natalie G. Strappy, executive director of the Alachua County School District’s Head Start and Early Learning Development and The Parent Academy programs, said the way Head Start is funded is transitioning to a competitive five-year grant model updated annually and awarded directly to public or private non-profit organizations. In the past, Head Start authorized funding every year to Head Start programs.

AUGUST 30, 2019

USDA Approves Early Release of September Food Assistance Benefits

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – To assist families as they prepare for Hurricane Dorian, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release September food assistance benefits to all 67 counties included in Governor Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-190 declaring a State of Emergency.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers who were scheduled to receive their benefits between September 1 and September 14 will now be able to access benefits through their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards starting August 31 at noon. This is an early release of regular benefits, not a distribution of additional funds.

AUGUST 28, 2019

Florida Times-Union: Opinion Bob Bialas, executive vice president of Children and Head Start Services for Lutheran Services Florida

Guest Column: Let’s support children suffering from Adverse Childhood Experiences

Teachers and staff in the Head Start programs operated by Lutheran Services Florida are tragically familiar with the term “Adverse Childhood Experiences.”

They know that children living in poverty suffer Adverse Childhood Experiences at rates five times as high as others. They have seen children struggle with neonatal abstinence syndrome, deaths of family members, placement into foster care and instances of either witnessing or being victimized by violence. They also know that these traumatic childhood experiences persist long after the healing begins.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least one in seven children face Adverse Childhood Experiences each year; it also estimates that the economic burden associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences costs American taxpayers billions of dollars.

JULY 3, 2019 

State Leaders Urge Floridians to Make Safety a Top Priority this Summer

Tallahassee, Fla. – First Lady Casey DeSantis, Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) Secretary Chad Poppell, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ (FLHSMV) Executive Director Terry Rhodes are urging all Floridians and visitors to make safety a top priority during the summer months. Summer is especially dangerous with two-thirds of drownings nationwide occurring each year between May and August, and a national average of 38 child vehicular heatstroke fatalities per year.

“Our great state is known for its beautiful summer weather and abundance of natural waters – a place for families to make lasting memories,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “As a mother of two active young children, I know how critical it is to take the necessary safety precautions during the summer months. Active supervision, swim lessons, and safeguards for your home and vehicle are proven steps to ensure the safety of our children.”

JUNE 25, 2019 

New Head Start project bridges gap between early education and public school

The Office of Head Start (OHS) at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families will bring together leaders from school districts and Head Start programs from across the country on June 24 and 25 to address the need for better coordination between Head Start and K-12 education. Comprehensive early childhood education like Head Start programs can prepare children for kindergarten, but children’s continued success requires the support of teachers and leaders in their next school environment.

“Head Start programs and the elementary schools our children will go to should work together to sustain the gains children have made. I believe the folks who show up daily to run Head Start programs can directly impact how children are prepared for life beyond Head Start—most typically, public school kindergarten,” said Dr. Deborah Bergeron, director of OHS.

 JUNE 19, 2019

Head Start Cheers House Passage of Robust Funding Bill

Bill Includes $750 Million to Aid Head Start in Addressing Surge in Childhood Trauma
 
WASHINGTON, DC — The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded Head Start’s champions in the U.S. House of Representatives for passing legislation to increase Head Start funding in fiscal year 2020 (FY20) by more than $1.5 billion. At the urging of NHSA and the Head Start community, the bill includes $750 million to equip Head Start programs with additional training in trauma-informed care and provides access to increased mental health services for children and families. The bill also enables programs to adjust staffing levels to counteract the challenges of drug addiction, community violence, displacement and other forms of extreme trauma.

“On behalf of the more than one million children and families who benefit from Head Start’s community-based services every year, we thank the House for passing this bill,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “The House has demonstrated its strong support for Head Start’s whole-child, whole-family approach to early childhood development, and we urge the Senate to make a similar investment in America’s most vulnerable children and families.”

JUNE 11, 2019

Head Start Backs Legislation to Treat Childhood Trauma

RISE from Trauma Act Recognizes Vital Role of Head Start in Supporting Children and Families

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today welcomed the introduction of the RISE (Resilience, Investment, Support, and Expansion) from Trauma Act, bipartisan legislation in Congress that seeks to engage Head Start in supporting at-risk children and families exposed to trauma, including addiction and abuse. NHSA worked with the lawmakers leading the effort in the Senate—Senators Dick Durbin(D-IL) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)—to leverage Head Start as a part of this community-coordinated response to trauma. The proposal, which has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), would have a substantial, visible impact in the lives of Head Start children and families.

“Head Start is a safe haven for more than one million vulnerable children and families, many of whom are battling the storms of addiction and other traumatic experiences,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “The RISE from Trauma Act would better equip Head Start staff to respond to children and families in crisis. I urge all members of Congress to support this bill and engage Head Start’s family-centered approach in intervening to stop the ripple effects of trauma in our communities.”

JUNE 03, 2019

Head Start Celebrates Passage of Major Disaster Relief Funding Bill

Congress Passes Bill with $55 Million for Head Start Programs

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today welcomed congressional passage of legislation providing $55 million to meet the recovery needs of Head Start programs with facilities impacted by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019. The Head Start funding is included in the 2019 Emergency Supplemental bill (H.R. 2157), which passed the House of Representatives this evening with overwhelming bipartisan support and is expected to be signed into law by the President without delay.

“Head Start programs ravaged by hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters are grateful to our champions in Congress for providing this emergency aid,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “This funding will help ensure that disaster-stricken Head Start programs can continue supporting at-risk children, families, and communities on their paths to success. NHSA is proud to serve as the voice of the Head Start community in Washington, both during and after storms.”

Programs are eligible for the disaster funding if they were impacted by Hurricanes Florence and Michael, Typhoon Mangkhut, Super Typhoon Yutu, or wildfires and earthquakes occurring in the calendar year 2018, or the tornadoes and floods that have occurred thus far in the calendar year 2019.

MAY 08, 2019

Head Start Cheers House Committee Passage of Robust Funding Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded forward progress on legislation to increase Head Start funding in fiscal year 2020 (FY20) by more than $1.5 billion, including $750 million dedicated to supporting children and families experiencing trauma—a top priority for NHSA and the Head Start community. The U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee passed the bill, bringing Head Start programs nationwide one step closer to a major funding increase when the new fiscal year begins October 1.

“While Congress is still in the early stages of reaching an agreement on Head Start’s funding for the coming year, this bill and the strong support it received in committee are both giant leaps in the right direction,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “NHSA is especially grateful to Congress for listening to our community’s request for new funding dedicated to increasing Head Start’s capacity to support trauma-exposed children and their families. Head Start partners with families to provide more than one million at-risk children with education, health, and nutrition services each year, and we thank our congressional champions for their unwavering commitment to opening windows of opportunity in their lives.”

MAY 2, 2019

Children First and State College of Florida form early childhood education partnership

Children First and State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) are proud to announce the formalization of an Early Childhood Education Partnership. Students in the Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education program will complete their final teaching internship in Children First Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms. These students will intern with teachers in early care environments serving children during the most critical period of child developmental -- birth through age 5.

The foundation established in these years is crucial to student success in kindergarten and beyond. Student teacher interns will be in an environment that will assist them in achieving the highest levels of success while working with the agency, children, and families.

APRIL 30, 2019

Head Start Guest Reading Event a Success

The Guest Reader program was brought to the Orange County Head Start classrooms more than 22 years ago by Literacy Coordinator with Orange County Head Start Katie Finnerty. Katie loved reading and books so much she encouraged everyone around her — staff, parents and children — to read. The program was initially started as a week-long event and grew so popular that it evolved into a month-long celebration.

It is a favorite time of year for children, teachers, parents, and staff. The event usually generates 500-plus volunteers in our centers, including elected officials, local athletics representatives such as those from Orlando City Soccer Club, Orlando Magic, and the best guest of all — our Head Start parents.

APRIL 26, 2019 

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Tallahassee, Fla. – Governor and First Lady DeSantis, along with Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), join the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and law enforcement partners across the state to promote this year’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 27.

First Lady Casey DeSantis said, “We must do everything in our power to fight back against the opioid crisis that is impacting families across the state of Florida. As Chair of the Children and Youth Cabinet, I am particularly concerned about how our kids are affected by the opioid crisis. We know that children often get their hands on prescription drugs in the home medicine cabinet. Governor DeSantis and I urge all Floridians to participate in Drug Take-Back Day and safely dispose of unused and expired prescription drugs to ensure that they stay out of the wrong hands and away from our children.”

APRIL 16, 2019 

Federal government awards expansion grant to the Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County to grow the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) program

Palm  Beach  County -  The  Early  Learning Coalition of Palm  Beach  County  (ELCPBC) is pleased to announce it has been awarded a   5-year grant with an approximate annual funding amount of  $1.6M from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services to expand their current Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) program. The federal grant will be used by ELCPBC to increase the number of children served by the current EHS-CCP program from 150 to 270  children, all between the ages of 0  to  3.  The providers participating in the EHS-CCP program are located in some of the county’s most vulnerable neighborhoods in  West  Palm  Beach,  Riviera  Beach,  Belle Glade, and Pahokee.  With the additional award, this grant will provide funding to the existing zip codes and expand to include Lake Worth and Delray Beach. “We are beyond proud of this collaborative effort to provide comprehensive care for the most vulnerable and youngest children in areas of Palm Beach County,” said Warren Eldridge, CEO of the Early  Learning Coalition of Palm  Beach  County.  “It  allows us to expand the continuum of care between community partners and to build upon the phenomenal work of Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.”

APRIL 4, 2019

Head Start Applauds Congressional Champions for Support

More Than 200 Members of Congress Endorse Robust Funding for Head Start

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today applauded the more than 200 members of Congress who reaffirmed their commitment to providing America’s most vulnerable children and families with the Head Start Advantage. 216 members of the U.S. House of Representatives—both Republicans and Democrats—signed letters of support requesting that congressional appropriators provide robust funding in fiscal year 2020 for Head Start, our nation’s early childhood development program that serves at-risk children from birth to age five and their families.

"The more than one million at-risk children who receive education, health, and nutrition services through Head Start each year thank our congressional champions for their unwavering commitment to opening windows of opportunity in their lives,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “Research has found that Head Start children are more likely to graduate high school, go to college, avoid incarceration, and achieve a higher quality of life as adults. This strong bipartisan support for Head Start from Congress shows that the majority of our lawmakers are committed to investing in America’s future. ”

MARCH 13, 2019

Barbara Mainster to Receive the Prestigious Chiles Advocacy Award

Children’s Week honors Barbara Mainster for her long-standing dedication to public service benefiting Florida’s vulnerable children and their families.

Immokalee, Florida - RCMA (formerly Redlands Christian Migrant Association) is pleased to announce that Barbara Mainster, former Executive Director, will be presented with Florida’s top child advocacy award in Tallahassee. The ceremony will take place on March 25, 5:00 p.m. at Florida State University Center Club during the Children’s Week celebration.

The Chiles Advocacy Award, named in honor of former Governor Lawton Chiles and First Lady Rhea Chiles, commemorates dedication to public service and commitment to the children of our State. The award is presented each year to a Floridian whose leadership is recognized for promoting policies and programs that improve the lives of Florida’s children and their families.

FEBRUARY 12, 2019

DCF Celebrates Foster Family Appreciation Week

- Recognizing Community Partners and Families -

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis proclaimed the second week of February as Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week, observed on February 11-15, 2019, to celebrate the enduring and invaluable contributions foster families provide to children in their care.

First Lady Casey DeSantis said, “Our state is blessed for the contribution of foster parents and the families they create. Whether a foster family is together for a short period of time or longer, the impact of the relationship is forever. As a mother, I am truly grateful for those who create a loving and nurturing environment for children and encourage all Floridians to find a way to help build and rebuild families in their own communities.”

“I applaud Florida’s foster families and every individual who plays a part in the fostering process as they help to change the life of a child in their community,” said Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Chad Poppell. “It is difficult for us to imagine what a child must feel during such a difficult time, but a foster parent can change a child’s heart by providing the love, joy, and security they want and need.”

FEBRUARY 08, 2019

Edward F. Zigler: eminent psychologist hailed as ‘Father of Head Start’

Edward F. Zigler, a pioneer in the application of developmental psychology to social policy and known by many as the “Father of Head Start,” a program that has served over 35 million American children and their families, died in his sleep on February 7 at his home in North Haven, Connecticut. He was 88 years old.

An eminent and rigorous scholar, Zigler was Sterling Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Yale University. He was passionate that science should be in the service of the public interest and had an extensive career in public service.

FEBRUARY 07, 2019

ACEs Documentary RESILIENCE Will Broadcast Throughout the State of Florida On Public TV

ACEs Documentary RESILIENCE Will BroadTallahassee, FL: RESILIENCE: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope will air on public TV Station throughout Florida on February 15th at 9:00 pm ET. The broadcast will commemorate the victims and survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting which happened in Parkland, FL one year ago. Following the broadcast, KPJR Films will host a RESILIENCE National Twitter Town Hall with a discussion of aspects of trauma, toxic stress and resilience with professionals and subject matter experts including James Redford, Director of Resilience; Alice Forrester, Ph.D. CEO Clifford Beers Foundation, Jane Stevens, ACES Connection and other experts from Florida. Join the Twitter Town Hall at @DocResilience using #ResilienceFL.cast Throughout the State of Florida On Public TV

FEBRUARY 04, 2019

Cleaner Classrooms and Rising Scores: With Tighter Oversight, Head Start Shows Gains

The New York Times

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When federal officials inspected this city’s Head Start program five years ago, they found moldy classrooms, exposed wires, leaking sewage, a sagging roof and trash-strewn playgrounds littered with safety hazards. A teacher had jerked a student so hard she dislocated the girl’s shoulder.

The visitors were so alarmed at the neglect that they began changing diapers themselves. What they did next was even more unusual: They fired the nonprofit running the program, the Urban League, and chose a new one.

DECEMBER 06, 2018

Washington Can’t Seem to Agree on Anything — Except Kids

Roll Call | Opinion: Yasmina Vinci is the executive director of the National Head Start Association; Sarah Rittling is the executive director of the First Five Years Fund.

OPINION — The intensity of this fall’s midterm election campaigns could make it easy to forget that there is one priority both political parties have consistently come together to support: early childhood education.

Despite the growing partisan divide, which seems to be worsening by the day and has left Washington unable to reach consensus on even routine items, lawmakers from across the political spectrum in Congress and the 50 states still view advancing early childhood education as a critical objective.
Voter support for this objective manifested itself on Election Day; for example, the vast majority of governors-elect have previously expressed support for early learning and care initiatives in their respective states.

NOVEMBER 01, 2018

How Early Head Start Prevents Child Maltreatment

Child Trends

Documenting and understanding the long-term impact of early childhood programs on child and family well-being, particularly on child abuse and neglect, is a challenge. Programs that serve families with infants and toddlers, such as Early Head Start (EHS), typically strive for positive outcomes while children are enrolled in the program, but also after they have left. Unfortunately, most research on programs for infants and toddlers focuses exclusively on immediate impacts on child development, school readiness, and family functioning without follow-up over time to understand their longer-term well-being.

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018

Congress Passes $200 Million Increase for Head Start

NHSA Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC, – The National Head Start Association (NHSA) today welcomed final passage by Congress of legislation making a significant increase in the federal investment in Head Start.
 
“Head Start remains one of the most effective early intervention programs for children from at-risk backgrounds from birth to age 5, and this funding increase validates that track record,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “From early math and reading skills to confidence and resilience, Head Start helps children build the abilities they need to be successful in school and life. The bipartisan support for this funding bill further demonstrates that even leaders who have trouble agreeing on much concur that Head Start is a worthwhile investment in building our nation’s future.”
 

SEPTEMBER 18, 2018

State Association Honoring Early Childhood Education Leaders and Families

By Wanda Minick, FHSA Executive Director 

TALLAHASSEE, FL –  the Florida Head Start Association (FHSA), representing Florida’s Head Start Programs will honor State award recipients during their annual awards luncheon in West Palm Beach October 31, 2018.  These award recipients were selected by a panel review and will go on to compete for the Region IV Head Start Association (RIVHSA) annual awards.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2018

Lutheran Services of Florida Head Start Director Selected Administrator of the Year for Outstanding Service to Head Start

By Wanda Minick, FHSA Executive Director 

TALLAHASSEE, FL – the Florida Head Start Association (FHSA), representing Florida’s Head Start Programs has selected Latanya Wynn-Hall of Lutheran Services of Florida in Jacksonville as the Administrator of the Year for her outstanding services and contributions to Head Start and the children and families she serves.

Mrs. Wynn-Hall is the Head Start Director of the Duval County Head Start/Early Head Start program, serving at its maximum capacity of 1,812 children. As a member of FHSA, she has volunteered in many roles of the association, including representing FHSA on the Region IV Head Start Association Board of Directors. She is also a Leadership Jacksonville alum of 20 years and a member of the Board of Directors of the Early Learning Coalition. Most recently, she was selected to receive training through the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Social Enterprise Executive Leadership Training program.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2018

Community Coordinated Care, Inc. of Orlando Father Named Florida Head Start Association Father of the Year

By Wanda Minick, FHSA Executive Director 

TALLAHASSEE, FL –  Daniel Grant of Orlando has been selected as the Florida Head Start Association (FHSA), Father of the Year for his ability to serve as a role model for his children and make a positive difference in the community. 

Mr. Grant has been an active volunteer for the past two years at the Community Coordinated Care for Children, Inc. Orlando Head Start/Early Head Start Program. As a Policy Council Representative, he has facilitated parent meetings, involved in planning activities and participated in Guest Readers week where he read to the children in the classrooms. He has also taken the initiative to better himself by taking educational training being offered at the program like an eight-week nutrition course and an eight-month Fatherhood Curriculum. His goal is to speak with fathers in the program and in the community to encourage their active participation in their children’s lives. He is a prime example of what family engagement is all about.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2018

State Association Awards Honor Parent of the Year Hillsborough County Head Start
By Wanda Minick, FHSA Executive Director 

TALLAHASSEE, FL –  the Florida Head Start Association (FHSA), representing Florida’s Head Start Programs has selected Ikeshia Highsmith as Parent of the Year at the Hillsborough County Head Start program. Ms. Highsmith has served three terms on the Mango Head Start Center Policy Council Board in the capacity of Head Start Center’s President, Secretary and Policy Council Representative and has contributed more than 133 volunteer hours.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2018
 
Brevard Public Schools Honored with the Florida Head Start Association Oral Health Award for the Second Consecutive Year

By Wanda Minick, FHSA Executive Director 

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Brevard Public Schools (BPS) Head Start program receives the Oral Health Award is given to Head Start grantees by the Florida Head Start Association for outstanding demonstration of support for oral health outreach and education initiatives in the community for the second consecutive year. BPS Head Start parents participate in school-based activities, receive dental hygiene education, and learn how healthy eating and healthy snack choices support and maintain strong teeth and gums and lead to broader academic gains.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2018

Hillsborough County Public Schools Head Start Receives State Award from the Florida Head Start Association
By Wanda Minick, FHSA Executive Director 
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Loren Herndon of Hillsborough County Public School Head Start program in Tampa, FL receives top honors from the Florida Head Start Association (FHSA), Teacher of the Year.
Ms. Herndon is a teacher of four-year-olds with the Hillsborough County Public Schools Head Start program. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood and Curriculum, holds certification in Pre-K through third grade, and is a National Board-Certified teacher. She has facilitated the implementation of the Empowering Effective Teachers program, is the team leader for Head Start and routinely conducts data chats in which education teams use data to provide differentiated instruction.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2018

Lutheran Services of Florida Staff Selected Head Start Staff of the Year by the Florida Head Start Association
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The association representing Head Start programs in Florida selected Tabatha Hayes of Lutheran Services of Florida as their 2018 Staff of the Year for her outstanding service and dedication to Head Start and the children and families she serves.
 
Ms. Hayes has served in the field of Early Childhood for over 20 years. She has held many different positions including Center Director, Quality Assurance Specialist, Education Specialist, Teacher Assistant, and Family Services Counselor.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, FL – September 18, 2018 - Matthew Fullas of Community Coordinated Care for Children, Inc. in Orlando, FL has been named Support Staff of the Year by the Florida Head Start Association.

Mr. Fullas has worked in the role of PC Technician for Community Coordinated Care for Children, Inc. for seven years. He as an Associated of Arts degree in Computers and Network Technology and holds numerous industry certifications. His work for the program has been instrumental in identifying the technical specifications needed to establish a security camera monitoring system in all agency operated classrooms. After installation, the monitoring system has helped to ensure a safer environment for children, families, and staff.

AUGUST 22, 2018 

Florida Head Start Association Announces Interim Changes in Leadership

By Wanda Minick, FHSA Executive Director 

The Florida Head Start Association (FHSA), announces today interim changes in leadership effective immediately as a result of Mr. Louis A. Finney no longer serving as President of the Association. Mrs. Rebecca Henderson, Manager, NBS! Intellectual Property, Center for Health Delivery Innovations, Nemours Children’s Health System moves into the Interim President role after serving as the Treasurer the past three years and Dr. Jaqueline Jenkins, Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start Program Director will serve as Interim Treasurer after serving on the Board of Directors for one year.

By Ryan McKinnon, Correspondent Herald-Tribune

FHSA Position Statement on Kindergarten Assessment (KEA) System

Children entering kindergarten in 2017 were assessed using the STAR assessment that was administered using computer technology. This Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) was disconnected from the VPK assessment system which measures different domains of learning.

Head Start Leaders Call for Support in Responding to Opioids

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.”

A New Focus on School Readiness

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.

JUNE 252018

How Data Helped Head Start Centers Tackle a 'No Show' Problem

What do you do when you build a preschool class—but many of the children never show up?

That's what happened at the Head Start program overseen by the Community Action Project of Tulsa in Oklahoma, or CAP Tulsa for short. In September 2016, 135 preschoolers—fully 20 percent of the program's Head Start population—never appeared at the start of the school year, even though their parents had enrolled them.

CAP Tulsa, as it has often done in the past, turned to data both to figure out the problem and devise a solution. And in doing so, it provided an example of how all of Head Start's 1,600 grantees are now expected to infuse data into their decisionmaking and continuous-improvement processes.

Guest Column: More support is needed for mental health programs

The Florida Times-Union deserves praise for its recent editorial “The massive impact of suicide.”

Florida remains ranked 50th nationally for mental health funding, despite the fact that our state’s suicide rates continue to rise each year.

As one of the state’s largest providers of state-funded behavioral health services, Lutheran Services of Florida joins the Times-Union’s call for increased state funding on services and education for vulnerable Floridians.

We also appreciate the Florida Legislature for recently dedicating an additional $69 million toward mental health needs in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting.

It is crucial that we remain focused on the links between suicide, mental health, and substance abuse.

Ready for school, prepared for life

ST. PETERSBURG – Last month, the Pinellas County Annual Head Start Advantage held its Annual Awards and Awareness Luncheon, presented by Lutheran Services Florida, at the Coliseum. This yearly event is a report on the progress of their programs.

Founded as a summer program in 1965 to aid children of low-income households, Head Start and Early Head Start programs today serve over a million children nationwide. They aim to provide comprehensive services to children ages and social services for their families.

MAY 24, 2018

DCF Celebrates National Foster Care Month

by DCF Press Release

TALLAHASSEE—The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and its community partners have joined together to recognize and celebrate foster families and those who support them during National Foster Care Month.

“When you choose to invest in and enhance the lives of children and youth currently in foster care, you are giving them an opportunity to be successful; ultimately strengthening our communities,” DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said. “Opening your heart and home to a child in a time of critical need is one of the most rewarding roles you can fulfill within your community.”

MAY 5, 2018 

Families take over Cascades Park for Kidsfest

by Tallahassee Democrat

Families were bustling from painting stations to bounce houses to Imagination Fountain on Saturday morning at Cascades Park for Kidsfest.

Now in its 18th year, Kidsfest brings together kids' activities and information about community family services. There was a blow-up obstacle course, a ball pit for toddlers and performances at the amphitheater.

The free event is put on by Kids Incorporated, a nonprofit that provides Early Head Start, nutrition, health and other services to families in the Big Bend. It was created to provide family fun for the community.

APRIL 24, 2018

NHSA Comment on Appointment of Dr. Bergeron to Lead Office of Head Start

by Robin Winchell

WASHINGTON, DC, April 23 – The National Head Start Association, a not-for-profit organization supporting the Head Start community, issued the following statement following the announcement that Dr. Deborah Bergeron would be the next director of the Office of Head Start.

“The National Head Start Association welcomes Dr. Bergeron to the Head Start community,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “As Assistant Secretary Steven Wagner has said, there is no better-run government program than Head Start, and that is because of the commitment and dedication of both program staff across the country and the public servants in the Office of Head Start. NHSA looks forward to partnering with Dr. Bergeron as we work together to strengthen Head Start and continue the 53-year legacy of transforming the life trajectory of our nation’s most vulnerable children and families.”

APRIL 13, 2018 

DCF Enhancing Suicide Prevention Practices at State Mental Health Treatment Facilities

by DCF Press Release 

Tallahassee, Fla. – This week, Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Mike Carroll directed a review to enhance suicide prevention practices at the three state-operated mental health treatment facilities to ensure every individual in the state’s care has the safest and most appropriate setting to aid in their recovery. The review follows three tragic deaths by suicide at two state mental health treatment facilities in the last month.

MARCH 22, 2018 

Head Start Welcomes Boost in Federal Funding

by NHSA

Bipartisan Agreement Includes $610 Million Increase for FY 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – The Head Start community welcomed a significant increase in federal funding when a bipartisan funding agreement for fiscal year 2018 was released last night by Congressional leadership.

"After months of stalemate and shutdowns in Congress, the Head Start community welcomes this significant increase in funding for a foundational American program that gives nearly one million of our most vulnerable children a Head Start in life every year,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “This increase will mean that programs can better support teachers and staff, more children will have access to full-day, full-year early child education, and more infants and toddlers will start off life with the Head Start advantage. As Congress turns its attention to the next funding cycle, we look forward to working with our allies to build on this progress so even more children and families have access to the window of opportunity Head Start provides.”Bipartisan Agreement Includes $610 Million Increase for FY 2018.

March 16, 2018 

Child Care for Working Families Act will improve the quality and quantity of child care

by The Hill: Janna Wagner and Annie Harper

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. There is virtually nothing more quintessentially American than the entrepreneur who works long hours, taking risks beyond those that mere employees take, providing a product or service that people need, and creating jobs.

One type of business that may not immediately come to mind when thinking of a small business, are home-based child care centers. Relatively invisible, almost always run by women, home-based child care centers vitally underpin the American economy.

March 12, 2018 

Trump Nominates OneStar CEO To Head HHS Agency

by The NonProfit Times by Paul Clolery  

Elizabeth Darling, president, and chief executive of the OneStar Foundation, has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

It is a U.S. Senate-confirmed position and the time period between nomination and confirmation could be weeks or months. Darling said that she’ll remain at OneStar in Austin, Texas during the process. Her hearing will be before the Senate Finance Committee and she’ll be making trips from Texas to the Capitol in preparation for the hearing, she said.

MARCH 07, 2018 

School District of Manatee County partners with Head Start, Early Learning Coalition to offer fun, educational pre-K events

by Herald-Tribune Ryan McKinnon 

BRADENTON — The penny press at the South Florida Museum was getting serious use Tuesday night. Kal Harris, age 4, stood at the flattening machine, loading penny after penny, turning the wheel and then marveling at how the dull brown penny became skinny, shiny and smooth.

Harris was one of roughly two dozen pre-kindergarten children from Seabreeze, Rogers-Garden Bullock, and Ballard elementary schools in Manatee County who attended Tuesday night’s “Soar in 4” event at the museum.

Across the room from him, Iris Bruno, 4, stuck large Lego blocks onto a board, her friend Isabella by her side. Other children were pulling cranks to inject ink into clear tubes, cutting patterns into paper and twirling twist ties into curly designs. The theme of the night was to be a “maker,” and the kids didn’t need any encouragement.

FEBRUARY 232018

Governor’s Press Conference on Action Plan to Keep Florida Students Safe

 

On Friday morning, Governor Scott shared his action plan to address procedures around purchasing and possessing firearms, funding school safety and funding for mental health services. Soon after, legislative leadership from both chambers shared their plan with similar provisions and funding levels in the range of the Governor’s proposal.

House and Senate Press Conference on School Safety Proposal

Press conference announcing proposal from Florida's legislative leaders plan concerning the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

FEBRUARY 09, 2018

Governor Scott Proclaims Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week

by Press Release: DCF

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott proclaimed the second week of February as Florida Foster Family Appreciation Week, observed on February 12-18, 2018, to celebrate those who protect and offer hope to Florida’s most vulnerable children.

There are approximately 7,184 children in Florida who live with foster families. Foster parents take on the responsibility of providing a supportive, safe, and loving home to children who have been abused or neglected, as well as being a role model for biological parents working towards reunification. These families encourage the success of Florida’s next generation of leaders, parents, and future foster parents.

JANUARY 24, 2018 

Head Start Hears from Senate Supporters

by NHSA Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association recognized eight U.S. Senators today for their continued support of Head Start with the PROMISE (Protecting Our Most Important Students Early) Award. Awardee Senator Shelley Moore Capito (WV), along with Head Start allies Senator John Boozman (AR) and Senator Jeff Merkley (OR), addressed leaders of the Head Start community during the annual Head Start on the Hill Breakfast, which kicked off a day of meetings with members of Congress and their staff.

“Head Start is in every community across the nation helping vulnerable children and families succeed, which is why we have such widespread support among members of Congress of all political stripes,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “We are grateful for our champions in Congress, and thank them for keeping the commitment to Head Start in both their words and their deeds.”

JANUARY 23, 2018 

Florida Children and Youth Cabinet Focuses on the Health and Well-Being of Florida Children During 2018 Children’s Week

by Press Release: David Frady, DCF Press Secretary

TALLAHASSEE – In recognition of Children’s Week, leaders from the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet came together today on the steps of the Old Capitol to promote the health and well-being of Florida’s children. For the past 23 years, this event has strengthened Florida’s families by sharing a commitment to improving communities through events and outreach efforts. Members of the cabinet addressed its current priorities, including focusing on early childhood development, the effect of substance abuse on children, significant behavioral health issues in children and teens, and child poverty.

JANUARY 22, 2018 

Head Start Leaders Get to Work, Despite Government Shutdown

by NHSA: Robin Winchell

WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders of the Head Start community, both parents and staff, are coming together in Washington, D.C., this week to plan for the future of the comprehensive early childhood education program. The National Head Start Association’s Winter Leadership Institute will offer the Head Start community information sessions, innovative panels, and invaluable networking events over the course of four days. Together, the Head Start community will strategize on how to build upon a successful 2017 and prepare to tackle new challenges in 2018.

“Throughout history, uncertainty has created opportunity, and we will continue to find opportunities to make Head Start stronger in Washington and in every community across the nation,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci shared with attendees at this morning’s opening session. “The federal government has closed down, but the aim of our work will not change. In fact, now it is more important than ever to make our voices heard on Capitol Hill, and we will be meeting as planned with our members of Congress and whatever staff is in their office this week.”

DECEMBER 13, 2017

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis Sponsors Resolution For Children’s Home Society of Florida

by Jon Moore, 850.413.2842, [email protected]

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – During today’s meeting of the Governor and Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis sponsored a resolution highlighting the Children’s Home Society of Florida’s tireless efforts supporting the growth, protection, and success of Florida’s foster children.

“Florida’s children are the future fabric of our communities and it is imperative that we continue to provide all children with as many opportunities for success that we can,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis. “I applaud the Children’s Home Society of Florida and their 115-year commitment to ensuring Florida’s foster children have the support they need to rise above life’s challenges and reach their full potential.”

DECEMBER 08, 2017

Head Start Welcomes Administration’s Review of Designation Renewal System

by NHSA; Robin Winchell

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association today applauded an announcement from the Administration that it will reevaluate a regulation that NHSA has long argued is ineffective, arbitrary, and unnecessarily burdensome on Head Start programs. Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an official request for comments on a proposal that would change the Designation Renewal System’s (DRS) use of the CLASS tool, including the removal of the arbitrary lowest 10 percent provision and the adjustment of the minimum thresholds across all three domains. This announcement was publicly made by Steven Wagner, the Acting Assistant Secretary at HHS’ Administration of Children and Families, during remarks at NHSA’s 2017 Parent and Family Engagement Conference this morning.

NOVEMBER 20, 2017

White House Disaster Relief Request Falls Short of Meeting Head Start Needs

by Press Release: NHSA

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association today said the latest emergency supplemental appropriations request issued today by the Trump Administration does not call for sufficient funds to meet the recovery needs of Head Start programs impacted by this year’s natural disasters.
“The 2017 hurricanes that ravaged Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Florida, Texas, and the rest of the Gulf Coast have taken a tremendous toll on Head Start families, young children, and staff,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “Nearly 100,000 Head Start and Early Head Start children have been impacted by the storms, and many of their families are still struggling to recover a sense of normalcy. Head Start was a source of stability and support for these vulnerable families before the storms and has been playing a key role in their recovery since.