Thanks to the generosity of the business community, specifically philanthropists Laura and John Arnold, nearly 7,000 Head Start children will be able to go back to school this week. The National Head Start Association announced on October 7, 2013 that the Arnolds are extending up to $10 million in emergency funds for Head Start programs that had to shut down due to the government shutdown that is still in effect.
Last week when the government shutdown occurred, those Head Start programs that did not have their fiscal year 2014 funds appropriated as of October 1 were left with no access to federal funds. As of Friday, October 4 six Head Start programs, serving over 7,100 of our nation’s most vulnerable children had closed their doors leaving parents to find other arrangements. An additional 11,000 children could are at risk of losing their preschool if the government shutdown lasts much longer into October. Locally in the Lansing area, Head Start is not in imminent danger of closing but prolonged government shutdown could change that status.
The director of the NHSA stated today ““For nearly fifty years, Head Start has been the window of opportunity for more than 27 million of our nation’s poorest children as they embark on their journey to achieve the American Dream,” said Yasmina Vinci, Executive Director of the National Head Start Association. “The Arnolds’ most generous act epitomizes what it means to be an angel investor; they have selflessly stepped up for Head Start children to ensure their path toward kindergarten readiness is not interrupted by the inability of government to get the nation’s fiscal house in order.”
When news of the devastating closures reached the Arnolds, they graciously extended assistance to those who have closed and those facing imminent closure due to the government shut down. The funds extended through NHSA will need to be repaid, interest free, if and when the Head Start programs receive their full appropriate of funds that would have lasted them through 52-weeks.