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Following Calls from Senator Smith, Biden Administration Expands Eligibility for Head Start Program

WASHINGTON – Following calls from U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced that it is expanding Head Start Program eligibility to help more families in Minnesota and across the country access affordable, high-quality early education services. “For over half a century, Head Start programs in Minnesota and across the country have provided vital early childhood care and education to children from low-income households,” said Senator Smith. “Complex red-tape and outdated requirements have created unnecessary barriers to access. I’m pleased the Biden administration acted so quickly in response to our request to simplify eligibility for this program. This new, simplified eligibility is a great move that will allow more families to benefit from high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education.” “The Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement that they will add SNAP to the categorical eligibility list for Early Head Start and Head Start will allow families much easier access to programs in the state of Minnesota and across the nation,” said Kraig Gratke, Executive Director of the Minnesota Head Start Association. “Programs that we know serve the highest risk population with services that stabilize families and get children ready for school and to be lifelong learners.  When I shared the announcement with programs there was an immediate response of gratitude for those that did the work to make this happen, excitement over streamlining the Head Start enrollment process for families, and one of promise for those families who are now eligible

U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Colleagues Call on Biden Administration to Expand Access to Head Start

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined a group of her colleagues calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand and streamline eligibility for the Head Start program.  Expanded and simplified access would help ensure that more families in Minnesota and across the country are able to access affordable, high-quality childcare, education and health services and reduce administrative burden for programs.  Along with Senator Smith, the letter was signed by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). “We write to ask the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education by using your existing authority to ensure that more young children and families are eligible for Head Start programs,” the Senators wrote to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.   The Senators continued, “For more than 55 years, Head Start programs across the country have provided vital early childhood education to children from low-income households. Additionally, Head Start programs provide wraparound support to parents and entire families, including health, wellness, and nutrition services. However, many families who could benefit from Head Start’s vital services earn slightly above the federal poverty level (FPL) and may be ineligible.” The Senators are urging Secretary Becerra to expand eligibility for the program to include families that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). “Minnesota Head Start programs support

Sen. Tina Smith Introduces Bill to Deploy Broadband to Unserved Rural and Tribal Communities

Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith introduced legislation—the Community Connect Grant Program Act—to establish the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program under law and make improvements to the grant program that makes funding available for broadband projects in tribal, low-income, and remote rural areas. The USDA Community Connect program through the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) helps fund broadband deployment into rural communities. In addition to authorizing the program and targeting areas that lack access across the nation, Sen. Smith’s bill would increase internet speed service under the program because she hears time and time again that this is a real concern for

Sen. Tina Smith Takes Stand for Minnesota Travelers Abandoned in Mexico by Sun Country Airlines

Today, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith took a stand for the Minnesota travelers who were effectively abandoned by Eagan-based Sun Country Airlines after the company cancelled return flights to the Twin Cities during the weekend snowstorm but failed to rebook or adequately refund the passengers. In a letter to the Department of Transportation sent today, she called on federal transportation officials to look into Sun Country’s failures and to explain what is being done to ensure that airline cancellation policies protect travelers. She also criticized Sun Country for how it mishandled the rebooking and refunding of passengers who have been forced

Klobuchar, Smith Demand Answers from Sun Country After Airline Cancels Flights and Strands Passengers in Mexico

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) sent a letter to Sun Country Airlines CEO Jude Bricker to demand answers from the company after the airline cancelled flights from Los Cabos and Mazatlán, Mexico to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) due to severe weather, leaving approximately 250 passengers in a foreign country without flight options. Because these flights were the last of the season, Sun Country consumers in Mexico had no alternative travel options. Consumers were forced to purchase last-minute, one-way tickets through alternative airlines in order to return to Minnesota. While consumers were compensated for the

Senator Tina Smith to Host 8th Annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition

On Wednesday, April 25, Senator Tina Smith will host the eighth annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition. Sen. Smith is taking up the helm of Al Franken’s annual hotdish-off to determine which Minnesota Congressional Delegation member makes the best hotdish—a dish similar to what other states call a casserole, but indisputably better. Sen. Smith will be joined by the entire Minnesota congressional delegation: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Reps. Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz, Rick Nolan, Erik Paulsen, Tom Emmer, and Jason Lewis. Sam Brodey of the publication MinnPost will host the event and give opening remarks. “I’m continuing Senator Franken’s tradition