Partial Government Shutdown Keeps 5,000 Children Out Of Head Start Program

Five federally funded Head Start early childhood programs have stopped offering their services to 5,000 children of low-income families as a result of the partial government shutdown, according to the Washington Post.

Head Start offers early childhood education programs, preschool, for children from birth to age 5. Over a million children, 37 percent of whom are Latino, are served by Head Start programs throughout the country every year, including the five education centers shutdown as of Friday.

According to the Post, Georgia’s Ninth District Opportunity Inc. Head Start program was closed Friday, shutting out 2,153 children in 113 classrooms. Those children joined the 1,019 children from Connecticut’s Action for Bridgeport Community Development, 900 at Mississippi’s Five County Child Development Program, 898 in an Alabama center, and 378 children in a Florida center that also had to find schooling elsewhere.

The National Head Start Association rallied in D.C. on Tuesday to try and stop the partial government shutdown. The organization says Head Start programs won't have grant money made available to them until the stand-off is up, leaving 19,000 low-income children in dozens of programs across 11 states at risk to be without services.

National Head Start programs took a hit earlier this year when 57,000 poor children were eliminated from the program's services as a result of the sequester. The mandatory 5 percent cuts also eliminated 1.3 million operational days from Head Start center calendars and laid off or reduced the hours of more than 18,000 employees.

"This abdication of responsibility by Congress and leaders in Washington has further displaced the at-risk children already reeling from sequester. Government shutdown is one cut atop an already deep wound," said Yasmina Vinci, Executive Director of the National Head Start Association.

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