Congress is facing withering criticism on Twitter about 19,000 children who may lose access to Head Start services due to the government shutdown. A small sample:
All of the kids who attend Head Start schools? No education for them until Congress can get it together! How great, right?
— Diane Alston (@dianelyssa) October 1, 2013
#Dear Congress if your going to act like 2 year olds you should keep head start open!
— Dana Olita Ogden (@danaolitaogden) October 1, 2013
Many Head Start programs are shut down and thousands of children will go hungry. But, Congress still gets paid. It’s just shameful.
— Greta Oehlert (@SassySBGal) October 1, 2013
But the government shutdown will not affect all of these children at once.
The 19,000 slots are served by the 23 Head Start grantees that receive federal funding on Oct. 1. (Other Head Start centers get their federal money at different times, and there are about 1,600 Head Start grantees in all.) The government is not distributing new grant money due to the shutdown, but in some cases, according to my colleague Alyson Klein’s reporting, some centers may have enough money squirreled away to get them through a short time.The Office of Head Start won’t know immediately how many children are affected. (Alyson’s government shutdown “cheat sheet” gives great information on all of the federal programs that touch children and schools.)
Though the doors to Head Start did not necessarily slam shut for all 19,000 children Oct. 1, the shutdown effects have been felt immediately in some areas—for example, some Head Start centers in North Florida closed Tuesday. Several centers in South Carolina have only enough money to last until Oct. 4. And these effects are on top of the 57,000 Head Start slots that were eliminated due to sequestration cuts. According to the National Head Start Association, an advocacy group representing Head Start centers, the program has sustained enough damage.
“Government shutdown is one cut atop an already deep wound,” said Yasmina Vinci, the executive director of the organization, in a statement.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.