If you need more proof that the government shutdown is seriously hurting Americans, look no further than Head Start, which has cut programs for 3,200 preschoolers with more closings expected. The lack of government funding has forced the preschool program Head Start — which provides educational and developmental support for children up to five years old — to shutter many of its programs. Across the country, about one million children from low income families rely on Head Start for schooling and child care.
When Congress decided to push past the October 1 deadline for funding the government, 23 Head Start programs in 11 states (which take care of 19,000 children) risked losing their funding. So far, programs in Talledega, Alabama; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Prentice, Mississippi; and Tallahassee, Florida have been forced to close down, leaving preschoolers out in the cold. Additional programs have been able to bridge the gap temporarily, but the closures could spread as we approach the fourth day of the government shutdown.
On Friday, the damage to Head Start and the families it serves could increase threefold. If the government isn't up and running, 11 more programs may be forced to shut their doors.
These closures come on top of cuts to the Head Start program that took place earlier this year thanks to sequestration, when budget cuts to the government-funded preschool program cut services for more than 50,000 children.
And kids aren't the only ones suffering in these school closures. Head Start teachers are being furloughed and some parents of Head Start students are having to either take days off of their jobs or shell out extra money to care for kids while they work or attend school — a difficult proposition for families who are already struggling.