Valley parents say the early childhood program Head Start has provided that perfect mix of a well-rounded education for low-income children.
"They cover emotional development, curriculum, academics, and it's just like the full compass," said Sloan Ware. Before choosing Head Start, Ware says she was looking for a program that would make use of her 4-year-old son Kyle's budding talents.
"He'd pick up letters at such a young age. I was like, 'oh my gosh, I need to cultivate this,'" Ware added.
But the benefits of the Head State program is, like other federally-funded agencies, in the cross-hairs of the ongoing government shutdown.
"It will impact thousands of children in Arizona," said Mindy Zapata. She is director of the Head Start program at Southwest Human Development. Her worry grows each day the shutdown drags on.
"Head Start programs in Arizona will come up for re-funding on November 1st," Ware said.
If the shutdown doesn't end, Zapata says children would miss out on services that prepare them for kindergarten. Parents would suffer too she says.
"The critical resources that families need as low-income wage earners in the state of Arizona to maintain their employment and go to school," Zapata said.
Zapata says about 10 percent of Head Start funding is in-kind donations from private donors. It was a couple's $10 million check that reopened programs that were shut down On Oct. 1 due to the shutdown. Federal dollars had been halted to those programs, affecting 7,125 children.
Zapata says hopefully the same would happen here in the Valley should Nov. 1 get here and the shutdown still be in effect.
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