In 2007, Head Start was reauthorized by the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act, Public Law No.: 110-134 (2007). The act also changed the administration and funding of Head Start through the Secretary of Health and Human Services from an indefinite period to a 5 year grant based cycle (Administration for Children & Families, 2015; School Readiness Act of 2007). Section 640 defined the allotted amounts of funds for state Head Start programs, training and technical assistance, research, and evaluations. Further, the act enhanced Head Start programs to include better monitoring, training supported at the state and national levels, higher qualifications of teachers, State Advisory Councils on Early Care and Education, and standardization of early education goals. Specifically, section 652 revises training and educational requirements for Head Start teachers of children with disabilities in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Section 634 requires that Head Start workers reach out to parents in order to provide more support and education about their kids’ needs for healthy development. The full act can be found at https://www.congress.gov/110/plaws/publ134/PLAW-110publ134.pdf
The importance of early childhood education is stressed in the Early Childhood Care and Services chapter of Social Work Speaks (National Association of Social Workers, 2015). The NASW defines early childhood as birth to eight years of age. In this time, quality childcare that addresses the child’s educational, social, emotional, and health related needs leads to enhanced development of cognitive, language, and social skills. It stresses the importance of supporting not only the child, but the parents as well, because they ultimately have the greatest impact on the child’s potential outcomes. Because early childhood is a critical period for the development of crucial life skills, families should have access to equally qualified child care centers and educational facilities. The NASW discusses early child care as a multi-disciplinary approach, in which social workers play an integral role due to their ability consider the strengths of the family, and create the best plan for the child. Social workers also have training in the effects of environmental stressors on young children, such as neglect, isolation, abuse, and exposure to violence (National Association of Social Workers, 2015).
In Argentina, the National Education Law of 2006 was passed to increase access to quality education specifically to children living in rural areas (World Bank, 2015). The law changed compulsory schooling from 10 to 12 years, recognized cultural differences in rural education, and focused on increasing preschool education in low income areas. The National Rural Education Program, which created new schools, donated text books, and funded teacher training, was launched as a result of the policy. Between 2004 and 2013, preschool education in rural areas increased by 32.4%, and school dropout rates dropped for all age groups (World Bank, 2015). The law also established Primeros Años: Programa Nacional de Desarrollo Infantil, or “first years: national program of childhood development” in English, a program that uses community engagement to support families with the growth and development of their children aged 0 to 4 years (Consejo Nacional de Coordinación de Políticas Sociales Presidencia de la Nación, n.d.). The program holds that all children should have equal opportunities to achieve their potential. It also states that programs in each of the provinces should be specific to the culture, history, and resources of that area in order to meet the specific needs of the people who live there. Similar to Head Start, it puts the family in the center of the child’s life, and therefore strives to educate and involve the child’s parents as much as possible.
Consejo Nacional de Coordinación de Políticas Sociales Presidencia de la Nación. (n.d.). Qué es Primeros Años. Retrieved from http://www.primerosanios.gob.ar/institucional/quees.html
Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, 42 U. S. C. §§ 635-657 (2007). Available from https://www.congress.gov/110/plaws/publ134/PLAW-110publ134.pdf
National Association of Social Workers. (2015). Early Childhood Care and Services. In J. Gutin, & S. Lowman (Eds.), Social Work Speaks: NASW Policy Statements (10th ed.). (pp. 82-84). Washington, D. C.: NASW Press.
The World Bank (2015). Argentina Improves its Rural Education System. Retrieved from http://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2015/04/06/argentina-improves-its-rural-education-system.