As of midnight on January 20, 2018, the US Government has officially been shutdown. Why a self-respecting government would ever allow themselves to be "shut down" and yet still want our confidence and trust is beyond me, but I digress. Congress failed to pass a spending bill to keep the government open and apparently everyone is blaming everyone else but them themselves. Typical politics. However, while the U.S. Congress and President Trump continue to play "Not It", they are failing to consider how this shutdown affects the most vulnerable among us--our children! Let's put aside how this does nothing to teach our kids what good governance and functional democracy look like and focus on how the lack of funding for a specific program will be detrimental to our kids (and our country's) future.
Head Start is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. Head Start has over the years proven to be a valuable program that has helped millions of kids gain the necessary competencies for success in kindergarten, first and second grade (such as reading and writing skills). Not only has there been positive cognitive and developmental impacts, but greater socio-emotional and behavioral impacts as well as health and safety impacts. Overall, Head Start has been a great thing for kids, especially in communities of color where lack of resources has caused the educational gap to widen. There is a great amount of research that shows the positive effects of early childhood education on student success in the later years of their lives.
Since this is a federal program, funding to the local Head Start programs will most likely stop during this government shutdown if it lasts beyond February 1st (since grantees usually get their funds on the first of the month). Back in 2013 during our last shutdown, many Head Start programs had to send kids home to frantic parents who had to be at work and had no means of child care. Thankfully there were people such as John and Laura Arnold of the Arnold Foundation who donated 10 million dollars to Head Start programs in need of funding back then. Let's hope it doesn't get to that point during this latest shutdown. The clock is currently ticking and our children are waiting for the legislative and executive branches of our government to show true leadership and get the government up and running full steam again.
Horace Buddoo is an educator, educational consultant, master teacher, speaker, TEDx curator, TEDx speaker coach, mindfulness coach, managing editor of EDUTAKE and the host of the EDUTAKE podcast.