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The Head Start program, which provides free preschool instruction and nutrition for children from low-income families, will be preserved as a separate program in next year's federal budget.

The $912-million program had been scheduled by the Office of Management and Budget to be included in a new package of block grants to states. That move, which would have permitted states to decide whether to continue the program, was opposed by Richard S. Schweicker, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the program.

Mr. Schweicker reportedly was successful in protesting the block-grants plan to the White House. The inclusion of Head Start in block grants would have violated President Ronald Reagan's promise to include it in a protected group of "social safety net" programs.

City officials throughout the country should prepare themselves for an influx of Puerto Ricans, who are immigrating in increasing numbers, according to Fernando L. Camacho, executive vice-president of the National Puerto Rican Forum.

Mr. Camacho said the increase will affect school systems particularly because the children of the new immigrant families will "need strong language assistance."

While there are no supporting national statistics, Mr. Camacho said, "Our experience at our training center [in New York City] indicates that there has been such an increase in the past year." He said 40 percent of the applicants for job-training and placement services "have come directly from Puerto Rico," an increase of 20 percent over the previous year.

"Traditionally, when economic conditions on the island have worsened--and that certainly is the case now--there has been a migration," Mr. Camacho said. The unemployment rate there is more than 20 percent.

In the past, Mr. Camacho said, New York City was the destination of the vast majority of those emigrating from the commonwealth.

"But during the last two decades," he said, "the Puerto Rican population on the mainland has spread out, and there are now sizable communities in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Michigan and even Washington, D.C."

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