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Montana’s Little Children Get A Line Item in Congress

February 2, 2009

Helena, MT – A line item in the Congressional economic recovery package could bring benefits to Montana's youngest kids. The House and Senate versions of the bill set aside more than two billion dollars for Head Start, which is good news in Montana, where some Head Starts have waiting lists, and others are thinking about cutting enrollment because of federal funding cuts over the past several years.

The president of the MEA-MFT, an education and public service workers' union, Eric Feaver, says it's the right move during these tough economic times, which increase stress for families with young children.

"Human capital is precisely what this is all about. Head Start is a profound program, it's been around a long time, it has proven results."

Feaver says it's heartening to see that Congress is looking beyond construction projects in designing the recovery package.

"Whereas it's very important to move dirt, and to build highways, and repair water systems, we also need to pay attention to the education of our children."

The Montana legislature is also looking at giving Head Start a boost. One bill would award every Head Start program in the state 300 dollars per student. Feaver says that would improve conditions for Head Start educators as well for as the pupils, and more federal Head Start funding would likely mean new jobs as teachers are hired. Opponents of more Head Start funding on the state and federal levels say the cost is too much.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT