HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger introduced bipartisan legislation to allow Head Start programs to receive Federal Work-Study dollars and to give college students additional opportunities to gain experience in the field of early childhood education.
Currently, work study recipients are unable to use their designation to work in Head Start centers. Spanberger’s legislation would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make jobs in early childhood education—including Head Start positions—eligible as community service under the Federal Work-Study program. Spanberger led the introduction of the bipartisan legislation alongside U.S. Representatives Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) and Tom Cole (R-OK-04).
“Across Virginia, thousands of students take advantage of the Federal Work-Study program to earn extra income and help pay for college—and many of these hardworking students are preparing for careers in early childhood education. But currently, they’re unable to use work study dollars to serve in Head Start centers,” said Spanberger. “Our bipartisan bill would fix this discrepancy by allowing Head Start programs to qualify for Federal Work-Study dollars. By giving college students the opportunity to serve at Head Start centers during their undergraduate years, we are giving the next generation of educators valuable, hands-on experience in early childhood education. I’m proud to stand alongside Congressmen Castro and Cole in introducing this bill—and I’ll keep seeking new ways to strengthen Head Start, promote high-quality early childhood education, and support Virginia students pursuing education careers.”
“Studies have shown that the earliest years of education are the most critical for learning and setting children up for future success. As the Federal Work-Study Program is currently administered, vital early education jobs do not qualify for community service. This is a missed opportunity not only for our children but for our talented future teachers,” said Cole. “I am proud that this legislation encourages college students with a passion for teaching the youngest generation and provides greater opportunity for valuable career growth in the field. But most importantly, this bill brightens the future for our kids.”
“With meaningful community service jobs and quality early childhood education, everybody is better off. During formative years, developmental and learning services are critical for students to succeed and realize their full potential,” said Castro. “For those attending college and participating in the Federal Work-Study Program, teaching our nation’s kids is a valuable job and important way to give back. Such firsthand experience will inspire more diverse and talented people to pursue teaching, to the benefit of our children. Enabling our brightest minds, young and younger, to learn from one another will contribute to progress for all of us.”
Since arriving in the U.S. House, Spanberger has fought to strengthen support for Head Start programs in Central Virginia and across the country. In June 2019, she helped secure an increase of $1.5 billion for Head Start in a House-passed funding bill.
This bipartisan bill also builds on Spanberger’s efforts to find new opportunities for Virginia college students to afford a higher education. Earlier this month, she helped introduce bipartisan legislation that would increase transparency in the federal student loan process.