U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have announced that West Las Vegas School District is receiving more than $8.2 million to expand Head Start programs to 172 more children. The funding is provided through a new grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to be awarded over a period of five years.
West Las Vegas School District plans to use the funding to open 10 new Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms, creating more than 30 jobs. Head Start is one of the few early childhood education options available in the community, and seven of the new classrooms will help the program serve 140 more children under age 5. The other three classrooms will expand Early Head Start to 32 more expecting parents, infants and toddlers under age 3. Early Head Start promotes healthy prenatal outcomes for pregnant women, enhances the development of very young children and promotes healthy family functioning.
“Head Start helps give kids across New Mexico a chance to succeed, and I’m excited to announce this new funding to expand early childhood education and serve 172 more children in Las Vegas — while also creating jobs in the community. But this grant is only a downpayment. We need to fully fund and strengthen Head Start and other child well-being programs, and that’s what I’m pushing for with my Saving Our Next Generation Act,” said Udall, who has introduced legislation to streamline eligibility and fully fund programs that are proven to improve child well-being, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Head Start, school meal programs and housing assistance.
“This funding will do a great deal to ensure families in Las Vegas have access to quality Head Start programs that promote healthy development and prepare children for long-term academic achievement,” said Heinrich. “Ensuring our children are receiving a world-class, affordable education at every age — no matter where they come from — not only improves the wellbeing of our children, it’s also the surest way to rescue our struggling economy. Children in high-quality preschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school and are better prepared to compete for quality jobs as adults.”