After hearing the news that 7,195 children in six states have lost access to Head Start thanks to the government shutdown, philanthropists Laura and John Arnold gave the National Head Start Association up to $10 million in emergency funding to re-open the classrooms, according to a press release from the association. While these programs have been allocated federal money, they haven’t been able to access it during the shutdown with offices closed.
The numbers of low-income preschoolers who can’t go to Head Start could keep escalating as the shutdown continues, however. Twenty-three programs across the country, which serve 19,000 students, ran out of funding on September 30 and were expecting more on October 1. Those 7,000 children could soon be joined by more. Meanwhile, if the shutdown lasts into November 1, the association says that “additional Head Start programs serving more than 86,000 children in 41 states and one U.S. Territory stand to lose access to Head Start funding.” More wealthy backers would have to step up to keep these kids in their programs.
The shutdown closings come after severe budget cuts that have battered Head Start programs across the country. More than 57,000 have already lost their preschool slots this year thanks to sequestration, which came on top of earlier losses. Those children who do stay in programs may find they have less time in the classroom: centers are also reducing the days they are open by 1.3 million and the hours they operate by 18,000 to cope with sequestration cuts.