Head Start and Lobbying
Head Start programs and staff are limited by the Head Start Act and annual Appropriations Acts in how they may legally engage their Congresspeople.
You may not lobby to influence any member of a legislature, staff, or government employee specifically to persuade the individual to propose, support, oppose, change or otherwise influence legislation pending before Congress.
However, you can respond to Congressional requests for Head Start related information, educate federal officials (without asking for their support or opposition), and belong to associations that provide educational or informational services that directly benefit your program.
Consider educating your Congresspeople by:
Sending your Congressperson a copy of reports you send to the Regional Office with a brief cover letter letting him/her know how you are doing.
- Sending a letter of thanks for continued support when you complete a grant. Include pictures.
- Sending Congressional aides updates on program activities.
- Sending copies of your newsletters.
- Inviting your Congressperson and his/her spouse to your center. Take photos, have brief parent testimonials, share classroom accomplishment, and provide demographic information about the kids and families you serve.
- Providing your Congressperson with children’s artwork and information about the artists.
- Creating monthly parent success stories, written by the parents in their own hand, which relate the parents’ positive experiences in Head Start.
- Holding an open house at your center during a legislative recess. If s/he can’t attend send photos and updates.
- Sending a short note telling him/her how well you are doing and expressing your thanks for his/her support.
- Sharing great peer reviews demonstrating your ability to operate a high quality center and spend money wisely.
- Updating your Congressperson on the educational pursuits of your staff and their dedication to Head Start.
An expanded and printable version of the above list is available.