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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

lls needed to move out of poverty and pursue the American dream.

The potential short-term enrollment cut for Head Start is based on the assumptions contained in the White House's Fiscal Year 2009 budget, which proposed cutting 14,065 slots in the face of flat funding outside of a targeted increase for Head Start employee health care benefits.

National Head Start Association Board Chairman Ron Herndon, who also is director of the Albina Head Start program (Portland, OR), said: "We will be working to get the new President and the new Congress to send clear signals that they are fully committed to Head Start and want it to get as many children ready to learn as possible. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration and some in the current Congress have decided to leave Head Start twisting in the breeze, forcing us to scrimp, cut corners and now eliminate slots for thousands of America's most at-risk youths. As a result, the next President and Congress literally will be faced with the question of whether or not they are prepared to do what it will take to ensure that we have a Head Start program moving forward. We are confident that we can make a compelling case for hitting the 'reset button' on Head Start to get things back where they belong."

Julius Bennett, director, East Side House Settlement Head Start (Bronx, NYC), said: "I have been the director for my program since 1969. One thing that has never changed about the philosophy of Head Start is the importance of giving young children the best start that we can in life. In the 43 years I have been involved with Head Start, I would say the program is at its lowest point ever. Head Start needs to be funded at a level that will allow it to follow all the mandates and requirements, particularly those in the new Reauthorization bill. Head Start has long placed a priority on providing a quality education and well-rounded support structure for young children and their families who are in need. I ask Congres
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SOURCE National Head Start Association, Alexandria, VA; East SideHouse
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