Emergency Funding for Head Start: Angel Donors Invest in Children

Last week I wrote about the Head Start program and how the shut down had already begun affecting the ability of several Head Start Programs to be able to serve the children and families enrolled in their local programs.  Several Head Start programs were on the same fiscal year funding cycle as our Federal government, therefore, at the end of the fiscal year on September 30th, there was no money available for them to pay their staff, purchase their supplies, or pay their bills during the shut down and families had to find other places for their children to go.

The good news is that some private people who have an understanding of the importance of the work that Head Start does for children, families, and communities, have stepped up and donated $10 million in emergency funding to the National Head Start Association. I received the following in an email forwarded from the director of our local Head Start Program:

Philanthropists Keep Head Start Open During Government Shutdown; Laura and John Arnold provide up to $10 million in emergency funding to help children and families.

This is amazing news and such a wonderful gesture. However, it’s a finger in a few holes in a wall with large cracks forming and the overwhelming pressure is building up behind it. That ten million helps approximately 7,000 kids in six states for the current fiscal year, which just ended or will end at the end of October. Program years where the funding had already been approved and supposedly allocated to be distributed to the programs for the 2012 – 2013 Fiscal Year, which ended right as the 2013 – 2014 academic year was beginning. The 2013 – 2014 Fiscal Year that Senate, Congress, and POTUS cannot or will not agree on, was supposed to start on October 1st for some programs. The rest of the programs are supposed to start November 1st.

At the end of the first week of the government shutdown, seven Head Start programs in six states (AL, CT, FL, GA, SC and MS) were closed, leaving 7,195 of our nation’s most vulnerable children without access to Head Start. More than 11,000 additional children risk losing access to comprehensive Head Start services if the shutdown continues through October. If the government does not reopen by November 1, additional Head Start programs serving more than 86,000 children in 41 states and one U.S. Territory stand to lose access to Head Start funding.

Something that bothers me about the article is the fact that we are still counting on our government to fix their problems and do the right thing by all of it’s citizens. With each new administration, each new election, each new war, recession, and economic downturn, politicians who may once have had good intentions, vision, and ideals, fail their constituents and fall into the self-perpetuating engine of political posturing, self-promotion, and catering to whoever has the most resources to make the biggest noise. Now, once again, we, the people, are arguing in social media about whose fault it is, vilifying each other for still believing or trusting one party or the other, when our children are not being supported with the educational services they need in order to become the hope for the future they truly are.

“The entire Head Start community and the at-risk children we serve are tremendously grateful to the Arnolds for their compassion and generosity,” Vinci said. “The bottom line, however, is that angel investors like the Arnolds cannot possibly offer a sustainable solution to the funding crisis threatening thousands of our poorest children. Our elected officials simply must find a fiscal solution that protects, preserves and promotes the promise that quality early learning opportunities like Head Start offer to nearly one million at-risk children each year.”

Why don’t the people with these kind of resources: the shareholders, the stock owners, the corporate heads and their CFO’s pool the money they try to hide from the IRS and create a non-profit educational foundation that manages investments and funds the education of their future workforce? Create financial foundations to be the core funding for teaching Americans how to fish and provide the supplies with which to do so?

The checks and balances of our democratic system have ground our government to a halt because the government has outgrown the original and intended purpose. All of the services and programs the government administers serve real needs and some version of these programs are definitely needed by those who receive the services. However, government bureaucracies are not creative, innovative, or inventive. They are administrative. Creative solutions, innovative ideas, and inventive concepts come from those who have something at stake besides the electoral or popular vote. They come from people who have the incentive to survive, grow, and thrive. Invest in the people who are most in need of finding a solution and stop limiting them by saying government is the only way to get our citizens’ needs met.

The most effective programs and solutions have proven time and again to be from a synergy of people with the resources making them available to the people who have experienced the problem first hand. So, let’s get the people and companies with the money, together with the program administrators, the families who’ve been in the program, and the educators who have made Head Start the stellar program it has been over the past fifty years, and create something new whose funding is not attached to bi-partisian bickering and temper tantrums. I think it could work.

I think the same thing could work for programs like SNAP, TANF, ERDC, and so many others. What do you think?

About Lillian

Figuring life out one day at a time. Concurrently writing on Human In Recovery on Wordpress as Kina Diaz DeLeon, as my psuedonym to protect the guilty and innocent alike. I'm finally integrating and accepting the different aspects of myself and my life into one mosaic instead of keeping the parts segregated.

11 thoughts on “Emergency Funding for Head Start: Angel Donors Invest in Children

  1. This is a great post. I am sharing it because I feel the same as you do that there is money out there that needs to be used in better ways by all these companies. We should not have to rely on the government for everything. That has become far too prevalent and the norm when it should not be and I think is probably causing more harm than it is doing good.

    • Kathie,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate you sharing it as well. I find myself in a unique position of being pretty dependent on government subsidized programs for survival, and really hating it, but not knowing how to personally access other options that actually help me to grow out of dependence instead of perpetuating it. I want my daughter educated. I want her to be able to have other options than I or her older siblings have had. Government funded programs sound great and promise a lot, but the reality is that they create and perpetuate as many problems as they propose to fix. *sigh*

      Be well,

  2. This is a great article and very well written. It was such a generous gesture to donate the 10 million. It’s just too bad that it will not cover what is needed to keep valuable programs like this funded. I cannot offer a solution as I am not not well versed in politics and I know I should be. I am grateful for people like you who bring this to light. There are so many programs and individuals affected by this shutdown that we, as the general publis just do not realize.

    Thank you again,
    Missy Bell

    • Missy,
      I seriously doubt the final solution will come from a political person. Politics is about maintaining a balance of power, and each groups efforts to shift the balance into their favor and fight to keep the momentum of that shift going.

      Once upon a time, that was achieved through substantive and cooperative action. Now, however, it’s managing public perception via the smoke and mirrors of modern media.

      So, the idea people need to get together with the experienced people and get the bean counting people and the marketing people to present their solutions to the money people in a way that appears and aligns with their vision for growth.

      The people earning $174,000/yr and forever pensions aren’t exactly invested in coming up with solutions because they lack any motivating incentive to do so.

      Be well,

  3. Lillian, this is a great post and a great proposal. It’s always the people who are the force behind any change in the government or it’s policies. I like the ideas you’ve proposed and hope that someone with a parenting insights and knows the importance of Head Start to take the initiative and get the ball rolling! Thank you!

  4. Hi Lillian, and thanks for another great post. This idea:

    “Why don’t the people with these kind of resources: the shareholders, the stock owners, the corporate heads and their CFO’s pool the money they try to hide from the IRS and create a non-profit educational foundation that manages investments and funds the education of their future workforce? Create financial foundations to be the core funding for teaching Americans how to fish and provide the supplies with which to do so?”

    Wouldn’t it be great? But when many of the richest are also the greediest, I can’t imagine it happening. Heck, even if they paid their fair share of taxes it would help fund needed programs. I think of Walmart, where they help their employees apply for food stamps because they know they won’t earn enough money to support families, while those workers make the Walton family rich.

    I just don’t know. So many things are broken, and I just don’t know what the fix is.

    • Deb,
      I understand what you say. We may see them as greedy and grasping, but instead of judging and weighing them on our personal scales of justice, we need to understand them and learn to speak their language, the way we wish they spoke ours.

      Most people don’t think it’s fair that they’ve invested their time and resources into achieving certain accomplishments, then to have an authority, which shows very little value for the large share it takes, strip away 30% – 50%+ of that accomplishment and redistribute it in ways that continue to perpetuate the problems that created the need.

      They often do not have the experiential understanding that their experience of the world and their capacities are unique. Attacking, criticizing, demonizing, and vilifying isn’t the way to gain their support and only serves to cause them to raise their defensive walls even higher.

      We have to educate ourselves in order to educate them and create relationships as the basis for creating true change.

      Be well,

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