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Ohio Youngsters Could Lose Their "Head Start"

December 9, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Congress and the White House are getting an earful from education and children's advocates from Ohio and many other states this week. They are concerned that leaders might slash funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and Head Start, as federal stimulus dollars that helped to expand the programs run out.

Dr. Susan Ignelzi has worked in the early childhood education field in Ohio for years. She says during their first five years of life, children build the foundation for their future. And, she adds, these federal programs can help lay the groundwork for a child's success in school and beyond.

"If you do well in school, you stay in school. If you stay in school, you have a much higher probability of not being within that poverty area. A high school diploma is the number one thing that moves kids beyond poverty."

Ignelzi, the Women’s Advocacy Action Network policy coordinator for Children's Defense Fund-Ohio, says these programs also provide parents with the support they need to be productive at work.

The majority of early childhood education funding in Ohio comes from federal dollars. Ignelzi says the state cannot afford to lose these programs. She adds that while leaders struggle with ways to reduce public spending, it doesn't compute to do it by taking away programs that help those in the most need.

"These are tough economic times and there are pieces that we're going to have to cut. But don't cut the number of families who are eligible to receive the services."

It's estimated that up to 300,000 children stand to lose their spots in Head Start, Early Head Start and child care if funding is not continued in the fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill. A decision was due last week, but the House passed a bill extending funding only until Dec. 18.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH