Head Start Funding Threatened by Congressional Inaction

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Unless the U.S. Congress moves to halt budget cuts scheduled for the end of this year, a number of Idaho preschoolers could be without a classroom in 2013.

Idaho Head Start serves children in 72 communities across the Gem State, coming from families that have an average income between $6,000 and $9,000 per year.

But the federally funded program may leave hundreds of Idaho children at the school doorstep if teachers and other staff are laid off.

Head Start is budgeted through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one of the many federal agencies and departments targeted by Congress. Unless a stopgap measure is reached by Jan. 1, 2013, across-the-board cuts could be instituted at federal departments, not only including HHS but also the Department of Defense and the State Department.

Head Start provides an early childhood curriculum for children with disabilities and boys and girls who come from families dealing with economic struggles.

Analysts say that for every dollar spent on early education, $4 to $9 are saved on future intervention programs. For example, Head Start graduates are less likely to drop out of high school and repeat a class in traditional K-12 schools. Head Start students are also less likely to end up in the juvenile correction system or be a teen pregnancy statistic.

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