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:
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?
- Couple donates $10 million, keeps Head Start open during government shutdown (thegrio.com)
- Illinois Head Start programs remain open – for now (ivoter.net)
- Billionaire John Arnold Steps In With $10M To Keep Head Start Going During Government Shutdown (forbes.com)
- Prolonged shutdown could close Head Start programs (wbng.com)