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HHS Secretary Tom Price, Advocate for Head Start Block Grants, Resigns


Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, who has advocated for turning over control of Head Start programs to states, resigned on Friday, after Politico revealed earlier this month that he took taxpayer-funded private jets on several trips related to his work. 

A decade ago, Price, then a GOP Georgia congressman, pushed to have up to eight states take control of the federal preschool program through block grants. (The Department of Health and Human Services oversees Head Start.) Congress ultimately rejected his amendment to legislation reauthorizing Head Start. Right now, federal Head Start funding goes directly to individual grantees, who then administer their own Head Start programs. 

"In 1965, when Head Start was implemented, state-run early-childhood development programs didn't exist," Price said in support of his amendment in 2007, when the House of Representatives was controlled by Democrats. "Since then, and most recently, and in the past 15 years, states have invested considerable resources into early childhood initiatives."

In President Donald Trump's proposed budget for fiscal 2018, Head Start got a small funding boost. HHS also oversees Preschool Development Grants, a separate program. The proposed budget does not include a plan to block grant any portion of Head Start. 

Head Start is overdue for reauthorization. 

Photo: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price testifies in March before a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. -J. Scott Applewhite/AP-File

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