H.R.62: Head Start Improvement Act of 2019


The Head Start Improvement Act (H.R. 62) would replace the existing Head Start program with block grants to states and Indian tribes for prekindergarten (pre-K) education. Instead of providing direct financial assistance to Head Start agencies, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would allot block grant funds for pre-K education among eligible states and Indian tribes in accordance with their relative proportions of children, age five and younger, from low-income households. Grant recipients shall use the grant funds to (1) award subgrants to eligible entities that provide pre-K education programs; (2) administer such programs; and (3) provide technical assistance, oversight, monitoring, research, and training.

Under current law, HHS is authorized to designate, monitor, and establish standards for Head Start agencies. The bill instead shifts pre-K program oversight and control to states and Indian tribes, which shall have full flexibility to use grant funds to finance the pre-K programs of their choice. In addition, grant recipients may use grant funds to establish portable voucher systems that allow costs to be paid for attendance at private pre-K education programs.

Under current law, federal financial assistance for a Head Start program is generally limited to 80% of total program costs. If passed this bill would maintain this limitation by requiring grant recipients to provide matching funds equal to 20% of the grant amount.

S. 2996 is the Senate companion bill introduced by Sen. Mike Lee.

View Full Overview

Talking Points

  • Block granting programs can lead to reduced overall funding
  • Block grant funding levels are fixed, and cannot quickly respond to increased program enrollment
  • States can redirect funds in block grant programs and change enrollment requirements in ways current federal laws do not

Our Stance




Bill Number


Date Introduced

January 03, 2019


House Education and Labor Committee

Bill Status

Introduced or Prefiled


Rep. Jim Banks

Assigned Contact

Lauren Hogan
Senior Director, Public Policy & Advocacy
National Association for the Education of Young Children
1313 L Street Northwest
Washington DC , 20005