The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report highlighting Head Start’s effective response in managing the spread of COVID-19. The study, which included Head Start grantees in Missouri, found programs have been successful at implementing CDC-recommended guidance and other mitigation strategies that could serve as a model for the early care and education system across the country. The report also validated the critical role that increased funding, provided through the CARES Act, played in enabling Head Start programs to support families in a safe, healthy manner

The study, which included Head Start grantees in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, noted several factors contributing to successful implementation of CDC-recommended guidelines that helped to prevent COVID-19 transmission among children and staff members, including:

  • Following the lead of experts and their recommendations;
  • Funding programs through the CARES Act to enable necessary adaptations;
  • Providing flexibility and support for Head Start staff, including flexible medical leave, reimbursement for health care costs, remote work options, and flexible hours;
  • Taking a nimble, multi-pronged approach that evolves as circumstances change; and
  • Conducting multi-faceted, ongoing communication with consistent messaging among program administrators, parents and caregivers, teachers, and other staff members, as well as continuous engagement with community partners.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that early care and education is an essential part of communities. This report shines a light on the important work that has been done by Head Start programs to ensure that families and their young children have continued support.

The CDC report can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6949e3.htm