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Head Start Leaders Have High Hopes for New President and Congress, But Budget 'Double Whammy' Expected to Force Cuts of Up to 14,000 Child Slots Nationwide
Date:6/19/2008

Despite Outstanding Track Record of Program, Head Start Officials Bracing for Worst Under Fiscal Year 2008 Budget; Advocates Look Forward to Working With New President, Congress to Address Long-Term $1 Billion Budget Crisis.

WASHINGTON, June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Faced with an effective $1 billion cut in funding since 2002, cash-strapped Head Start programs across the United States will have no choice but to seek up to 14,000 child enrollment cuts now that Congress and the Bush Administration have let down America's most at-risk children twice in just over six months, according to local Head Start leaders across the nation and officials at the National Head Start Association (NHSA).

In December 2007, scores of costly new requirements were imposed on Head Start programs even as the program was cut by $10.6 million. More recently, Congress and the Bush Administration failed this spring to provide Head Start with needed catch-up funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 supplemental appropriations process. Despite the twin setbacks for what is considered to be one of the most successful programs operated by the federal government, NHSA and local Head Start leaders are optimistic that they can work with a new President and Congress to turn around the Head Start funding crisis and get the program back on track.

Head Start -- the nation's premier early childhood program serving more than 1 million children and their low-income families -- is a comprehensive school readiness program that helps to reduce the achievement gap in the classroom. Head Start children experience increased achievement test scores and favorable long-term effects in terms of less grade repetition and special education, and higher school graduation rates, according to one overview analysis of a series of studies. Head Start's parent Policy Councils and family support services empower low-income white, African American, Hispanic and other children and families to gain ski
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SOURCE National Head Start Association, Alexandria, VA; East SideHouse
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