Looming government shutdown could impact Head Start programs in Arizona
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Time is running out for Congress to reach an agreement on a new spending deal to avoid another government shutdown. The Senate rolled out its own short-term proposal on Tuesday, but it’s unclear if the House would agree to it. If lawmakers fail to make a decision by Oct. 1, the impact of a government shutdown will trickle down to the federally funded Head Start program nationwide.
The White House said thousands of kids would be immediately impacted. The longer it goes on, the more children will be affected. “It’s been a long time for there to be a shutdown here, and it’s really disappointing that this is where we’re at--that we can’t get people to the table to make final decisions,” said Marisol Garcia, the president of the Arizona Education Association.
She explained Head Start predominantly helps families below the poverty line and children with disabilities. “The latest date that we’ve seen is that this could impact about 15,000 kids throughout the state, and we’re talking about kids that are living in extreme poverty,” said Garcia.
Garcia said most public schools in Arizona receive federal funding earlier in the year and could stretch the money if a shutdown happens. However, that’s not the case for Head Start. “For Head Start, a lot of their funding timeline starts Oct. 1, so they’re about to run out of their current funding and it begins Oct. 1,” said Garcia. “These are our most vulnerable kids and not having the system up and running would really, really impact kids in the community that needs it the most.”
Garcia explained the program also doubles as a day care. She said if there’s a government shutdown, and if it goes on for days, it could hurt parents already struggling to make ends meet.
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