(Washington D.C.) -U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement on her vote to move forward with Head Start reauthorization in today's Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Markup:

"For over 40 years Head Start has helped children from low-income families build the confidence and skills they need to succeed in school. As a parent, a pre-school teacher, and a United States Senator, I have seen how this program benefits children, and I am committed to strengthening it through reauthorization.

"Today, in the Senate HELP Committee we took an important step toward strengthening Head Start. By moving forward with reauthorization, we are making Head Start more accommodating, more efficient, and more sensitive to children's social, emotional, and developmental needs. This reauthorization will allow us to better serve millions of children and improve upon this already successful program.

"I am proud of the improvements that we have made to the Head Start program in this reauthorization. We have expanded eligibility so that additional families who are just above the federal poverty line are eligible for enrollment. We have renewed the program's focus on school readiness by implementing new standards and more accurate assessments. And we have established bold new qualification goals for the Head Start teaching workforce.

"Throughout the reauthorization process, I have also worked hard to preserve the crucial role of parents in guiding Head Start. Parents are valuable assets to the administration of the program and sitting on Policy Councils allows them to remain engaged in their children's education.

"We cannot let another generation start out behind and spend a lifetime struggling to catch up. Our investment in early childhood education must be bolstered and that begins with reauthorizing Head Start."