Oct 4, 2013 8:46 PM
TUCSON - The future of the federally funded Head Start program is still up in the air for southern Arizona.
In the middle of day four of the government shutdown the future of many programs are still uncertain, including the Head Start program. With nearly 2,600 southern Arizona families enrolled in the Head Start program many are worried about what they will have to do for child care if the program is forced to end.
Child-Parent Centers Inc. is the Head Start grantee for southern Arizona employing over 500 people to do more than just educate 2,599 pre-kindergarten children. The program also provides nutrition and health services but to Karla Montano, who is a parent in the Head Start program, it does so much more.
Montano explains, "They treat the kids like a family and it's very important to us."
Montano and Mireya Zapeta-Taylor are just two of the many parents who are worried about their children's future in a program that has already seen so many cuts.
"I don't know if there is going to be a Head Start for her next year because they have already had to a lot of cutbacks," explains Zepeda-Taylor.
Mary Bolen with Child-Parent Centers, Inc. says their non-profit agency is one of lucky ones that have received their funding for the year. However, if the federal government decides it can't soon renew their grants the doors to 42 centers across southern Arizona may be in danger of closing.
Bolen says, "My worry is for next year. If we're going to continue with our funding or if we're going to have to have parents go to other programs."
Since the government shutdown about fifty Head Start programs nationwide have closed affecting more than 3,000 children. This is a scary trend for parents and teachers involved with the program and an issue they hope will soon be solved.
"This is a program that has been around for a long time and statistics show that it's working," says Bolen.