Head Start Budget Request

$50 Million to support teachers, programs and families


We don’t need to tell you – Head Start is far more than a preschool program; it is a vital poverty intervention program for California’s most vulnerable children and families. However, to ensure this life-changing resource remains accessible to those who rely on it, we need the support and partnership of California lawmakers.

To keep Head Start programs across California strong, we are requesting $50 million for Head Start n the FY 22-23 state budget. This funding will support expanding access to early learning and care to more families, ensuring children reach Kindergarten healthy and ready to learn, and helping families can become financially secure.

Why should California support Head Start?

Implemented in 1965, Head Start has over 50 years of experience serving the most vulnerable children and families, including homeless children, foster children and children with disabilities.

And it works!

Children enrolled in Head Start enter kindergarten better prepared, healthier and with stronger social-emotional skills and have better academic outcomes throughout their school years. They are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. Head Start is a multi-generational program – parents of children enrolled in Head Start are more likely to increase their own education while their children are enrolled in the program than are other parents, spend more time reading to their children and have higher levels of self-sufficiency. 1


But Head Start programs in California are struggling. Head Start programs are federally funded at the same rate across the nation, which poses challenges in a high-cost state such as California. Salaries for Head Start teachers are deeply inequitable compared to their TK-12 counterparts. In California, the typical Head Start teacher with a bachelor’s degree makes only $41,000, compared to a $66,000 salary for a kindergarten teacher – a $25,000 difference.Funding allocated to raise reimbursement rates in state-subsidized programs do not support Head Start. As a result of inadequate salaries, positions can go unfilled for months, forcing programs to close classrooms – leaving families with no childcare and without access to needed resources including medical and dental care, parenting classes, employment support and connections to housing and nutrition services.


This is why we are asking Governor Newsom to dedicate ongoing funding to help support our neediest families and children. The proposed $50 million in 2022-23 will help Head Start, Early Head Start, Tribal Head Start and Migrant Head Start programs in California improve wages and benefits in order to recruit and retain our highly-qualified teachers. This is a core equity issue. The vast majority (98%) of early educators in California are women, and the majority (66%) are women of color.They need and deserve compensation that is equitable to that of their peers in the TK-3rd grade who have comparable education and qualifications.

How You Can Help

Contact your state legislators today and tell them how important Head Start is to you and why the budget request will help your program or your family. You can find information on how to contact your legislators here.

Share our campaign message far a wide! You can find sample social media posts, newsletter content and messaging tips in our campaign toolkit.


More Information:


1 Utah Head Start Association (2022). The Head Start Impact. https://www.uhsa.org/Why-Head-Start

2 National Head Start Association. (2019). 2019 California Head Start Profile. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20402535-2019-for-2018

3 Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. (2022). Demographics of the California ECE Workforce. University of California, Berkeley. https://cscce.berkeley.edu/demographics-of-the-california-ece-workforce/



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