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New York City’s Pre-K System Was a Model. Now Employees Say It’s a Mess







New York City’s free preschool program is a national model, embraced by parents and praised for its high quality. But a year into a new mayoral administration, the influential initiative faces challenges that may threaten its standing and undermine its future.


The problems are so severe that the program, which won accolades from experts and attracted visits from leaders of other cities hoping to copy it, could lose more than $70 million in Head Start funding and suffer a decline in standards, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former employees of the Education Department’s Division of Early Childhood Education.

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COVID Vaccine Mandate Halted for All Head Start Programs


Washington, D.C. – The COVID vaccine mandate for Head Start and Early Head Start staff has been struck down nationwide.


Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas vacated the mandate–meaning that it can’t be enforced in any state, territory, or tribal community–stating that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department lacked authority to impose a vaccine mandate on Head Start programs. We anticipate that we will hear a final word within days from the Administration about the court decision and next steps.


“This decision won’t change Head Start’s decades-long commitment to the health and safety of Head Start children, families, staff, and communities,” said NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “That said, we have every confidence this decision will allow programs to, at long-last, reclaim their local autonomy, which is at the foundation of what they do best: serve children and families in a safe, healthy, and community-driven manner.”


This decision follows the Final Rule the Administration released on January 5, which removed the masking mandate for all children, staff, volunteers, and contractors in Head Start programs and required all Head Start programs to establish a COVID safety protocol moving forward.

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