Government Shutdown

Local Head Start program open; others around state close

by Sarah Fay Campbell

The local Head Start program, operated by Community Action for Improvement, is not currently affected by the partial federal government shutdown.

Some Head Start programs are having to close because of federal funding issues, but CAFI's is not one of them.

Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive programs that provide education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. Head Start is for 3-and 4-year-olds and Early Head Start is for pregnant women and children up to 3. It's a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and eligibility is based on income.

CAFI provides Head Start and other services in the six county area of Coweta, Carroll, Heard, Meriwether, Harris and Troup. The Coweta Head Start programs are offered at East Newnan and Haralson. A small Head Start program at the Verona Rosser Center in Newnan was closed this year because of federal budget cuts known as sequestration. Enrollment was also reduced.

Whether a particular program is affected depends on when the program gets its federal grant funding. Some programs were set to get their grant funding Oct. 1.

Monday afternoon, the National Head Start Association announced that philanthropists Laura and John Arnold would provide up to $10 million in emergency funding to help reopen the closed Head Start programs.

As of Monday morning, Ninth District Opportunity Inc. in North Georgia had closed all 113 of its Head Start program, as well as 27 Pre-K classrooms, according to CBS Atlanta.

As of Oct. 1 when the shutdown began, there were 23 programs in 11 different states without grant money, according to Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association. There are nearly 19,000 students in Head Start programs set to receive funding in October, said Sally Aman of the National Head Start Association.

If the government does not reopen by Nov. 1, additional Head Start programs serving more than 86,000 children in 41 states and one U.S. Territory stand to lose access to funding, according to Vinci.

“Leaders on Capitol Hill, mired in an absurd and childish stand-off and unable to decide on a budget, left potentially 19,000 vulnerable children without Head Start services today when they shut down the Federal Government," Vinci said on Oct. 1.

The closure of Head Start means that working parents unexpectedly lost their daycare and have to scramble to find fill in care, which can be exceptionally difficult to find, as well as expensive.

"What these parents aren't able to do is go to work, go to school," said Aman. "It's really a devastating ripple effect."

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