On September 21st, NCC’s Lukas Pietrzak joined the National Head Start Association (NHSA) for a panel discussion as part of their 2021 Fall Leadership Institute. The NHSA is a coalition of local Head Start chapters and organizations funded and supported by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Head Start. Through their work on partnerships, collaborations, and campaigns, these local leaders are working to support early childhood education, ensuring equity and equality for children and their families across various topics.

The panel discussion explored how NHSA members can “leverage the moment” to support digital inclusion efforts aimed at closing the digital divide. The panel, moderated by Kent Mitchell, NHSA’s Senior Director of State Affairs, featured Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, and Belkis Torres, Vice President of Early Head Start at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. 

The group discussed how NHSA members could continue to support the whole child by advocating for more accurate and granular broadband data in their community, promoting access and adoption initiatives, and ensuring parents and siblings of young learners can access digital training. Pietrzak explained that there are a number of existing state and federal programs that support low-income and disconnected families, which also make up a large population within the Head Start network. 

Panelists emphasized the importance of trusted organizations and parties within communities. Local chapters of Head Start are full-time neighbors and residents that can fill a critical role in highlighting stories, disseminating information about access to technology, and advocating for broadband policies to support households in need. 

To learn more about the National Head Start Association, visit their website.