On April 21, 2022, the Office of Head Start announced it would expand its definition of public assistance to include families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California. The change removes significant barriers from the application process, increasing access to Head Start early learning programs.

“This is a win towards equitable access to early learning opportunities for the many families in Los Angeles County confronted with food insecurity,” said Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo, MSW, Ed.D. “Providing young children with a quality early education should not be an additional burden, but an exciting milestone that families can celebrate. We applaud the Office of Head Start for taking this important action.”

As nearly half of Head Start participants receive SNAP benefits, accepting SNAP enrollment as proof of Head Start eligibility represents a significant streamlining of Head Start’s eligibility determination process.

Executive Director of LACOE Head Start and Early Learning Division Keesha Woods added, “Families are more stressed than ever before trying to stay afloat, and this action will help us to reach more families while also reducing the burden on those families to enroll. We thank the Office of Head Start for taking this bold step to support families.”

Dr. Duardo applauded the efforts of the many individuals and organizations whose efforts contributed to this tremendous win for families and programs. “With 90 percent of brain development taking place in the first five years of a child’s life, Head Start has a tremendous life-long impact on children and their families,” Superintendent Duardo said. “This action to ease entry into the Head Start program will bring enormous benefits to our communities most in need.”

Adapted from https://www.lacoe.edu/Home/News-Announcements/ID/4686/Families-Receiving-Calfresh-Benefits-Now-Eligible-for-Head-Start-Early-Learning-Programs.