Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, who has been the director of the office of Head Start since October 2009, is stepping down from the post effective Nov. 22.
Prior to her appointment, Sanchez Fuentes was the executive director of the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association, a coalition of Head Start providers who offer coordinated services to 35,000 mobile children. She was also a Head Start Fellow, a year-long professional development program that brings early-education leaders to Washington to work with staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, of which Head Start is a part. Before her appointment, the Head Start office had gone without a permanent director for two years.
The $7.6 billion Head Start program covers about a million low-income women and children. During her tenure, Sanchez Fuentes oversaw one of the biggest changes to Head Start in its history: the creation of a “designation renewal system” that required some Head Start programs to compete for the first time for federal funds. In an interview with Education Week at the time the competition program was announced, she said the program was about “about increasing quality and holding grantees accountable.” The first round ended with only a handful of brand-new Head Start providers. Sanchez Fuentes said that the office would engage in aggressive outreach to potential providers in the competition’s second round, which has yet to release results.
Mark Greenberg, the acting assistant secretary for HHS’s administration for children and families, said in a statement: “I am proud to have worked with Yvette during her tenure and wish her well as she takes some well-deserved time to be with her family. Being the voice of the nearly 1 million Head Start children and families across the country does not come without personal sacrifice. The day President [Barack] Obama announced Head Start’s historic reforms, Yvette had to miss her son Alejandro’s birthday—luckily, President Obama signed his birthday card on Air Force One. Thanks to Yvette’s vision, hard work, and sacrifices, the Head Start families of America are better off. Please join me in wishing her well in her future endeavors.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.