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House Panel Backs 'Full Funding' For Head Start Program by 1994

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Washington--The House Education and Labor Committee last week approved a bill that would reauthorize the Head Start and Follow Through programs through 1994 at greatly increased funding levels.

The bill, HR 4151, would provide for "full funding" for the Head Start program for disadvantaged preschool children by 1994. It authorizes $2.39 billion for Head Start in fiscal 1991, increasing to $7.66 billion by 1994.

Follow Through, which seeks to bridge the gap between Head Start and elementary school, would receive up to $20 million for fiscal 1991, increasing to $50 million in 1994. The Bush Administration has proposed eliminating the program, which this year received $7.2 million.

Before approving the bill, the panel adopted an amendment to expand the parent-child centers that currently operate in conjunction with Head Start. The centers serve children under age 3 and their parents, who receive training in parenting skills and child development.

The amendment, which was offered by Representative Augustus F. Hawkins, the chairman of the committee, would allocate $30 million for the program in 1991. Mr. Hawkins said that amount, which is double the current funding level for the program, would provide services to an additional 4,000 to 5,000 children.

Representative Tom Tauke, an Iowa Republican, offered an amendment to permit schoolwide Chapter 1 programs to combine their Chapter 1 and Follow Through money.

Mr. Tauke said the amendment would help Head Start children gain access to Chapter 1 services. Many such children do not currently qualify for Chapter 1, he said, because they are not considered "educationally disadvantaged."

After several committee members expressed concern about the amendment, however, Mr. Tauke withdrew his proposal. He promised to work with committee leaders to develop a bipartisan amendment before the bill reaches the House floor.--ab

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