Budget Battle

Shutdown could be a headache for Head Start

School program could close in Muscatine County
2013-10-14T17:38:00Z 2013-10-14T22:09:04Z Shutdown could be a headache for Head StartEd Tibbetts Lee News Network Muscatine Journal
October 14, 2013 5:38 pm  • 

MUSCATINE, Iowa — With the partial government shutdown in its second week, the operators of the Head Start programs in Iowa are warning parents that many of its centers will be closed Nov. 1 if the situation is not resolved by the end of the month.

That would send many parents scrambling to find different arrangements.

In a letter to Head Start parents, dated Monday, Community Action of Eastern Iowa did say that it is working with some of its non-governmental funding organizations to try to keep some of its programs open.

Federal Head Start funding pays for 4 to 6 hours of programming for nine months out of the year. But Community Action has been able to leverage other funds to turn some classrooms into all-day centers or ones that operate year-round.

It now is seeking permission to use that funding to cover costs in the event of an extended shutdown. That could keep some centers open an additional couple of weeks.

"We have a little bit of fuzziness in there," said Roger Pavey, Community Action's executive director.

The program serves 600 students and has 118 staff members in Muscatine, Scott, Clinton and Cedar counties.

Some of the organization's centers are run exclusively on federal money, while others have a blended funding stream. Community Action has not announced any closings yet.

About 7,200 kids in six states saw their centers closed after the government shut down. But the National Head Start Association announced last week that a donation of up to $10 million by Texas philanthropists Laura and John Arnold helped return them to their classrooms.

While praising the donation, the association's executive director, Yasmina Vinci, said "angel investors like the Arnolds cannot possibly offer a sustainable solution to the funding crisis threatening thousands of our poorest children."

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