News Articles

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 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.”

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


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.


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.