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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today marks a milestone for the federal Head Start program – a child from the District of Columbia will be recognized as the 25 millionth Head Start child to go through the program, according to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, a strong advocate for early childhood education.

“Providing children with the fundamental tools to sustain a lifetime of learning and healthy living is essential to ensuring their success in life,” Murkowski said. “High-quality early education results in improved academic outcomes for children, which results in long-term benefits to and savings for states, schools, and taxpayers.”

Senator Murkowski recently convinced the federal Office of Head Start to allow the program in St. Paul, Alaska, to open this year, despite having fewer than 12 children ready to enroll.

“While the Office of Head Start ‘recommends’ that centers have 12 or more children, OHS had no statutory or regulatory authority to keep this center closed. Given that children who attend high quality early childhood education programs such as Head Start are better prepared for school than children who do not, it is in the best interest of the children and the community of St. Paul that this center be allowed to serve them,” said Murkowski.

Since its inception in 1965, 25 million children have benefitted from the high-quality early childhood education of the Head Start program, including many children in Alaska.

“It is a pleasure to take this opportunity to congratulate the many Head Start directors, teachers, parents, and children who make Head Start the successful program that it is in so many communities in Alaska and around the nation,” Murkowski said.