Soapbox

Head Start boosts the economy as well as kids

Head Start students work on their paintings during class at Washington Elementary School in Sacramento in 2013.
Head Start students work on their paintings during class at Washington Elementary School in Sacramento in 2013. Sacramento Bee file

Job growth is the Greater Sacramento Economic Council’s No. 1 priority as it recruits high-value companies, jobs and new investment. It also promotes programs that support our region’s vital asset – its workforce.

 
Opinion

One is Head Start, the early childhood education program that helps underprivileged children be ready for school. It also helps their parents to be successful – and better employees. Kids win, parents win and employers win.

The bottom line is recognized by employers nationwide: Head Start frees low-income parents to work.

And Head Start alumni from the past half-century are now enmeshed in all walks of life: educators, doctors, lawyers, military personnel, artists, engineers, religious, civic leaders, scientists and even members of Congress. Anna Maria Chavez, the first Latina CEO of Girl Scouts of the United States of America, was born into a family of migrant workers and attended Head Start. Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation – the world’s second largest philanthropic organization – was also a Head Start student.

In Sacramento County, the impact is significant. More than 5,400 children and their families are enrolled in Head Start, and Head Start programs employ nearly 1,100 workers with a payroll of about $45 million.

Unfortunately, thousands more who need the program are not enrolled. And there are proposals in Washington, D.C., to cap Head Start grants to states, thus threatening the structure of what makes the program successful.

GSEC operates on the idea that many roads will get us to the goal of more jobs in the capital region. Head Start has the track record of success that employers should understand and support wholeheartedly, for today’s working parents and for future generations of workers.

Barry Broome is president & CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council and can be contacted at bbroome@selectsacramento.com. Edward Condon is executive director of the Region 9 Head Start Association and can be contacted at econdon@region9hsa.org.

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