News Articles

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 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 trainings 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 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.”

APRIL13, 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


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 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.


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 concering 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 informative 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.