01.25.16

Peters, Stabenow & Kildee Call For Expanded Head Start for Flint Kids

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Dan Kildee announced they are sending a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging that Head Start be made available for every eligible child in the City of Flint. Last year, Congress approved an additional $135 million to expand the Early Head Start program, and the Members asked that the City of Flint be included in the expansion and that HHS provide technical assistance to community applicants.

 

“Thousands of Flint residents have been exposed to the lead-contaminated water, including children, who are the most vulnerable to the irreversible effects of lead poisoning.  The developmental and behavioral problems from lead poisoning will require years of special treatment and wrap-around care for these children,” wrote Peters, Stabenow and Kildee. “Therefore, we would like to formally request Head Start be made available to every eligible child in the City of Flint as soon as practicable and for at least the duration of a 5 year grant period.”

 

Children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of lead exposure, which has been associated with Attention Deficit Disorder and other cognitive, behavioral and developmental issues. A HHS report published last year noted that research shows children with or at high risk for developmental delays benefit most from interventions that begin at an early age.

 

 

Full text of the letter is below:

 

Dr. Blanca Enriquez

Director - Office of Head Start

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

330 C Street, SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Dr. Enriquez:

 

There is a serious drinking water emergency situation in the City of Flint Michigan.  Thousands of Flint residents have been exposed to the lead-contaminated water, including children, who are the most vulnerable to the irreversible effects of lead poisoning.  The developmental and behavioral problems from lead poisoning will require years of special treatment and wrap-around care for these children.  Therefore, we would like to formally request Head Start be made available to every eligible child in the City of Flint as soon as practicable and for at least the duration of a 5 year grant period.

 

As you know, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there is no safe blood lead level in children and the agency recommends public health actions be taken when children have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms.  Recent data collected from children in Flint has shown an increase in blood lead levels above 5 micrograms – indicating thousands of children in Flint were likely exposed to unsafe lead levels in Flint’s drinking water.  Lead exposure in children can have significant and long-term negative health consequences and has been associated with Attention Deficit Disorder, and other health and developmental issues.  We believe it is critical that we continue to do all we can to address the lasting health effects previous lead exposure may have on children of Flint.

 

Access to Head Start can assist with mitigating the potential negative health impact of lead exposure in Flint children.  According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year, “research demonstrates that children with developmental delays or at high risk for developmental delays benefit most from interventions that start at an early age.”  The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 included an additional $135 million to expand the Early Head Start program.  We request the expansion of programs include the City of Flint and ask that you provide technical assistance to community applicants.  We would welcome the opportunity to discuss additional options for expanding access to the program.  Our offices stand ready and willing to assist you in ensuring Head Start is made available to every child living in Flint.

 

We appreciate your willingness to assist the City of Flint and look forward to working with you to assist in Flint’s recovery.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Gary C. Peters                                                  

United States Senator                                  

 

Debbie Stabenow                                           

United States Senator                                  

 

Daniel T. Kildee

United States Representative