Republican Government Shutdown Turns Away Children from Head Start Classrooms: News of the Day

Oct 2, 2013 Issues: Education, Early Childhood

Children who participate in Head Start programs affected by the government shutdown protest their Head Start centers being shuddered.

Democratic lawmakers gathered today with Head Start advocates and providers, parents, and children to bring attention to the devastating impact sequestration is having on Head Start programs across the country. To add insult to injury, by shutting down the federal government, some children are already being sent home where Head Start centers are being forced to close.

The shutdown has prevented annual funding from reaching 23 Head Start programs that provide learning to approximately 19,000 children in 11 states, leaving some of our most at-risk children without a classroom to learn and forcing parents and families to scramble to find last minute child care. 

While some unfunded Head Start programs can temporarily rely on miscellaneous remnants of other haphazard funding sources, Head Start centers such as the Cheaha Regional Learning Program in Eastern Alabama had to turn away 770 low-income preschool children yesterday because of the GOP shutdown. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the committee, took to the House floor today to decry the GOP’s piece-meal approach to funding the government – pitting one desperate group of Americans against another.

Such a narrow-minded approach is not effective, it’s not compassionate, and it’s not wise way to govern. Cutting Head Start is a short-sighted strategy to reduce the federal deficit. What is needed instead is a vigorous investment in quality early childhood education, including an expansion of Head Start and Early Head Start. Decades of studies have shown that the early years in a child’s life represent a critically important window of opportunity to develop a child’s full potential and shape key academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine a child’s success in school and in life.

President Obama has called for such an initiative through a federal-state partnership that includes more resources for all quality preschool programs. In Congress, Rep. Miller is working closely with Chairman Tom Harkin of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on this proposal, which presents more opportunities for children to benefit from Head Start, Early Head Start and other quality early education.

Learn more about committee Democrats work to ensure children all across the country have access to an early childhood education.