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Am Samoa receives $4.5 million grant for Head Start program

Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata
Source: Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata’s D.C. staff

Washington, D.C. — Uifa’atali Amata welcomed official notice of $4,547,979 for American Samoa’s Head Start program, a major grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

This significant funding for Head Start is a discretionary grant distributed through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). These continuation funds help the American Samoa Department of Education (ASDOE) administer programs for early childhood education, assisting low income children and families.

 “Thank you especially to Milaneta Tinitali for working on these projects, along with everyone involved in the Head Start program,” Aumua Amata said. “Thank you to all of our hardworking educators at ASDOE.”

 “This program is designed to help children begin their school years well, and have the necessary learning momentum early,” she continued. “Congratulations to Director of Education Talauega Dr. Samasoni Asaeli upon obtaining these resources.”

Congress established Head Start and appropriates funds annually for the program to help children succeed in school and in life, focused on children under 5 years old and their early reading and math skills. HHS is headed by Secretary Xavier Becerra, and ACF by Assistant Secretary January Contreras.


Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata is one of a bipartisan group of 12 Members of Congress, an effort led by Representative Ami Bera (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation, that wrote a letter jointly to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young to express support for the OMB’s efforts to continue U.S. Postal Service servicing to the Freely Associated States (FAS)—the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia—within the wider negotiations to renew the Compacts of Free Association (COFA).

The letter comes amid ongoing discussions between the United States and the FAS to renew the Compacts, through which the FAS receive U.S. economic assistance, grants, and key federal services, and the United States the rights to operate military bases on FAS soil and make decisions that affect mutual security. One of the outstanding issues is ensuring the USPS continues to provide postal services to the FAS.

"As Members with a deep interest in the U.S. relationship with the Freely Associated States (FAS)—the Federates State of Micronesia (FSM), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Republic of Palau—we appreciate your work to ensure the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) fully participates in the negotiations to renew the Compacts of Free Association (COFA, or Compacts),” the Members state. “We support your office’s ongoing efforts to engage USPS and facilitate a mutually agreeable solution to address reported concerns related to the cost of continued postal services to the FAS—such as by adding consistent funding aligned with the terms of the renegotiated Compacts to future presidential budget requests."

The letter highlights the history and deep relationships between the U.S. and these sovereign countries, including during World War II; acknowledges the challenges and costs that the USPS faces; recognizes the services to the FAS provided by 60 U.S. agencies; and emphasizes the importance of shared diplomatic and security interests in the Indo-Pacific.

They conclude, “The United States has a strategic interest in maintaining robust connections with the FAS, which view continued postal services to be a crucial component of Compact renegotiation. We strongly support any efforts by your office to work with USPS to devise and include a mutually agreeable funding level in future presidential budgets to ensure continued mail services to the FAS.”