JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A new report, released by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), states that federal investment is needed for head start programs in Mississippi for equal opportunity.

According to the report, there was a significant drop in enrollment of children in poverty in Head Start and Early Head Start due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to NIEER, 257,000 fewer children are enrolled in Head Start and 22,000 fewer enrolled in Early Head Start nationally. In Mississippi, 9,198 fewer children enrolled in Head Start and 297 fewer enrolled in Early Head Start.

Leaders of NIEER suggested that the first solution is to provide $2.5 billion in funding each year to improve salaries, as well as an additional $10 billion in federal funding towards Head Starts.

Allison Friedman-Krauss, Ph.D., NIEER’s lead author, said the additional funding would also go toward raising teacher compensation and program quality.

“Despite steady declines in child poverty, Head Start serves the same percentage of children in poverty it did a decade ago, leaving far too many children behind,” said Dr. Steven Barnett, NIEER co-director.

Some Mississippi educators can agree that this initiative is something that needs to be enforced for equal opportunity towards education.

“I think this is actually something Mississippi needs as far as bettering our education for our youth,” said Yolanda Singleton, a Jackson educator. “It’s just way overdue.”

“Equal opportunity for our society is important, but especially for our children as they are the leaders of tomorrow, so I agree with this movement,” said Darryl Townsend, a Jackson educator.

The view the full report, click here.