The parents of the Child Start Head Start Policy Council, a governing body made up enrolled parents and community members, want to get the word out about how sequestration is affecting the children and families in our community. I am a Head Start parent and also serve on the Policy Council as the Secretary.
On March 2, 2013, sequestration caused across-the-board cuts for many areas of government spending including funding for Head Start programs. Child Start Incorporated is the agency that operates all of the local Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Napa and Solano Counties. We are now required to reduce their operating budget by over $500,000 which will force the agency to fully or partially close (in September) 3 sites, a total of 6 classes in different neighborhoods in Napa, Vacaville and Dixon. This means that children in some of those neighborhoods would have to enroll in sites that, are significantly further from their residence and it also could mean that some families will be turned away and not receive services at all. Additionally, 63,872 hours of educational and family development services, and 45,952 meals will not be provided to some of the neediest families in our community next year.
It is important that our community knows that Head Start has demonstrated, since 1965, that it is an exemplary childhood development program. Its comprehensive model, which supports children and their parents, is effective in engaging parents as partners to promote school readiness. Head Start works! This program must be supported more so that we can serve more families that need it, not less! There are hundreds of thousands of Head Start success stories including that from the nationally recognized Mayor of Rhode Island who swears that Head Start is the reason why he is where he is today. I, too, am an alumnus of Head Start and am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies and planning on attending Georgetown to obtain my law degree. Having been a Head Start child, I’ve lived and seen first-hand the benefits of Head Start on my family, even more so now that my daughter is enrolled in Head Start, too.
The program is called Head Start for a reason. When kids have a good preschool experience, they are much more able to do well and succeed in school. This is a critical program for learning, and without it, a child begins school behind which makes it difficult to catch up. These children have the confidence and knowledge to develop into secure, productive members of our community.
Sequestration will truly leave a devastating impact on the families in need the most in Napa and Solano Counties. As a community, we need a rallying cry that will be heard across the nation so that we can stop these cuts that are affecting our children. As we all know, our children are our future. Why is it okay to cut out our future? Let’s not leave any child or family behind. It’s time to speak out for our community.
Secretary on the Policy Council
Child Start Inc. Napa/Solano