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House Panel Backs 'Full Funding' for Head Start

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Washington--A House panel last week approved a measure that would permit "full funding" of Head Start by 1994.

HR 4151, which would reauthorize the 25-year-old program for disadvantaged preschoolers, as well as several other social-service programs, was approved unanimously by the Subcommittee on Human Resources.

Representative Dale E. Kildee, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the panel, offered an amendment4that set the program's 1991 authorization level at $2.386 billion, down from $2.73 billion in his original bill. That is still $1 billion more than was appropriated for 1990. And the revised bill would still allow lawmakers to raise spending on Head Start by $6.5 billion over the next three fiscal years, to $7.6 billion in fiscal 1994.

Mr. Kildee said this would allow Head Start to serve all eligible 3- and 4-year-olds and 30 percent of eligible 5-year-olds by 1994.

President Bush proposed a $500-million increase for the program in his 1991 budget, to almost $2 billion. That level would allow the program to reach 70 percent of eligible 4-year-olds, according to the Administration.

Funding Levels Questioned

Lawmakers did not debate Head Start's merits at last week's session, but Republicans questioned the wisdom of extending the program to younger children rather than improving its services.

Republicans also argued against establishing long-range spending levels, saying that it would be best to insert language into the measure allowing for flexibility in the years ahead.

They also criticized a provision that would establish two discretionary funds to allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to increase salaries and pay for improved services in individual programs.

The "set-asides" would take 10 percent of the Head Start budget if it exceeded fiscal 1990 funding.

Republicans argued that the amendment would subvert localcontrol of Head Start and give the Secretary too much leeway.

Among the other programs that would be extended by HR 4151 is Follow Through, which aims to help Head Start children through the primary grades.

The bill would authorize $20 million for the program in 1991, rising to $50 million by 1994. Follow Through, which the Administration has proposed eliminating, received $7.2 million in 1990.

A companion Senate bill and a less expensive Administration bill both address only Head Start.--pw

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