Shutdown Could Impact Head Start

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Head Start programs in Southern Oregon are still up and running for now, but if a deal in Washington isn’t reached by the end of the month, that could change.

The fiscal year for Southern Oregon’s Head Start programs begins November 1st, and unless the grant is renewed by the government, local branches may be in jeopardy.

Wednesday afternoon, young students at Washington Elementary worked on arts and crafts and learned from their teacher during their second week of head start. Unless an agreement in Washington is made on the federal shutdown, this time next month, those classrooms could be much emptier.

In Jackson and Josephine Counties, head start began a few weeks later due to the sequestration earlier this year. During the current federal shutdown their doors are still open while elsewhere Head Start locations are closed. This is because some region’s fiscal year begins in October and some, like those in Southern Oregon, begin in November.

Head start relies partly on federal funding through grants and at the end of this month, Southern Oregon head start’s grant will expire. If that happens, head start officials say they may not close completely because of some state funding, but change would have to be made.

“We do have state funding as well, in fact, more of our slots are funded by the state than by the federal government so we would have to figure out how we would deal with that at that time,” said Southern Oregon Head Start Director Nancy Nordyke.

Federal and regional head start offices are currently closed because of the government shutdown. Despite the looming possibility of the shutdown continuing and affecting head start, officials say they are still enrolling and encourage parents to apply for the program for their child.