Lee Proposes a New Model for the Pre-K Program Head Start

In an op-ed, Sen. Mike Lee discusses his proposed legislation that would eliminate Head Start’s federal bureaucracy by funneling its $8.6 billion budget directly to the states, empowering local communities to fashion solutions that actually help low-income children.

Writes Lee at the Washington Examiner:

Our bill would eliminate Head Start’s federal bureaucracy and block grant its full $8.6 billion budget to states and other eligible grantees (like the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico).

This would give states and grantees full flexibility to spend their federal pre-K dollars. They could even just give the money directly to families in the form of vouchers to defray the costs of private pre-school tuition.

There would still be a role for the federal government to play in early childhood education under the Head Start Improvement Act. The comptroller general would be charged with submitting a report to Congress comparing how the states are using their funds. Unencumbered by a one-size-fits-all model imposed on them by bureaucrats in Washington, states could learn from each other’s successes and setbacks, allowing the best ideas to come to the fore.

Few decisions are more intimate than how a family chooses to care for their young. Some may opt for a public program, while others seek out a private day care facility. And of course many rely heavily on help from family, friends and neighbors.

Washington should respect these decisions and empower parents, communities and states by making it easier to develop and tailor these unique solutions. Our Head Start Improvement Act is a step in that direction.