Head Start Program Operates On Borrowed Time

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You can add the Head Start preschool program to the list of things affected by the shutdown of the federal government.

In Jefferson County, 257 children and 57 employees will be sent home next Friday if Congress fails to adopt a budget.

Head Start is a federally-funded preschool for children of low-income families.

"It would be a gap in their service. Early education is really important now, much more than ever before because of school readiness," said Marie Ambrose, Head Start/Pre-K director.

The program would have closed Tuesday when the government shut down, but the county's Community Action Planning Council, which oversees Head Start, decided to use its reserve fund to keep it going.

"It costs about $8,200 per day to run the program. It sounds like a lot, but we are serving 257 families," said Melinda Gault, CAPC executive director.

The money runs out next Friday.

CAPC operates Head Start centers in Watertown, Carthage, Dexter, Adams Center and Antwerp.

There are Head Start programs in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

The St. Lawrence County program, which serves a total of 351 children, operates on a January to December budget year and won't be affected by the government shutdown right away, said Barbara Adams, who runs the program.

Around 800 children participate in Head Start across the north country.

See news release

Friday, October 24, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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