Durbin Visits Head Start Center to Discuss Federal Funding for Early Childhood Learning and Development

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited Mitzi Freidheim Englewood Child and Family Center in Englewood to discuss federal funding he secured for Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Illinois, which provide free, high-quality child care for children from low-income families ages birth to five and wrap around services for these children and their families.

The Mitzi Freidheim Englewood Child and Family Center is part of Brightpoint, a nonprofit organization that serves more than 30,000 children and families in 67 counties in Illinois by providing programming for low-income children and families. The Center provides early education, medical, dental, mental health, meals, and parent education services to nearly 200 children and their families.

“Our children are the architects of our future, and we owe it to them to provide equal opportunities to grow, learn, and succeed,” said Durbin. “Head Start and Early Head Start programs are a beacon of hope, nurturing young minds and setting them on a path towards a lifetime of achievement. By prioritizing early education, we’re building a stronger, more inclusive society, where every child can dream big and realize their full potential.”

“It is important to invest time, money and resources in affordable high-quality early childhood care and education – especially as we are still reeling from the mental health and social challenges wrought by the pandemic,” said Mike Shaver, President and CEO of Brightpoint. “Programs like Head Start and Early Head Start take a family-centered approach, providing social connections, access to economic and educational opportunities for parents, and a hub for the community, in addition to early learning and enrichment for children. Funding for affordable early child care and education that is centered around the family, will prove to be one of the most important solution to a problem we are just now beginning to unfold."

In Fiscal Year 2023, Brightpoint received more than $12.5 million in Head Start and Early Head Start funding. Durbin has long been a champion for increasing Head Start and Early Head Start funding. Durbin also supported the American Rescue Plan, which included $24 billion for Child Care Stabilization Grants and helped sustain 220,000 child care providers and up to 10 million child care slots across the nation. Durbin is also an original cosponsor of the bicameral Child Care for Working Families Act, which would increase support for child care through Head Start programs. These investments help families afford child care and allow more women to enter or return to the workforce. The bill also would increase compensation for child care teachers and provide pay parity with elementary school teachers for similarly credentialed child care educators.