Child and Family Advocates Call On Governor and General Assembly to Reverse $1.3 Million Cut to Rhode Island’s Head Start Programs
$1.3 million cut in state funding would impact some of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children and families in the middle of a pandemic when Head Start services are needed most.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Head Start Association is calling on Governor McKee and the General Assembly to reverse proposed cuts to state funding for Head Start providers that would result in the loss of early education, child care, health, and family support services for some of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children and their families. The $1.3 million cut to state funding for Head Start is contained in the Department of Human Services proposed FY 2022 budget.
“It is deeply disappointing that the Department of Human Services would propose the complete elimination of state funding for Rhode Island’s Head Start providers who serve some of our state’s most vulnerable young children and families,” said Linda Laliberte, President of the Rhode Island Head Start Association and Vice President of Head Start & Early Head Start at East Bay Community Action Program. “This $1.3 million cut is irresponsible, particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when our young children and families are struggling and need Head Start’s proven early education, child care, health, and family support services the most. We urge Governor McKee and the General Assembly to restore these funds.”
Rhode Island’s eight Head Start programs serve more than 2,700 children from every city and town in the state, promoting the school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from low-income families. Decades of research indicate that the early learning and development, health, and family well-being programs administered by Head Start lead to better school readiness and life-long gains for low-income children.
“Since the 1980s, Rhode Island has provided state funding to serve as a match for federal Head Start grant funding and to serve additional children,” said Lynda Dickinson, CEO of CHILD, Inc. “The proposed $1.3 million cut to state funding for Head Start would eliminate services to 130 of Rhode Island’s poorest children and their families. This would leave some of our state’s most vulnerable children without high quality early learning opportunities and our families without a reliable child care option during an ongoing pandemic that has stretched them to the breaking point.”
“If this cut is allowed to stand, not only will vulnerable Rhode Island children lose quality early learning opportunities, our working families will also lose a reliable child care option,” said Mary Varr, Executive Director of the Woonsocket Head Start and Child Development Association. “Our parents often work multiple jobs where remote work is simply not possible. Eliminating Head Start child care seats could force these parents to reduce hours or leave their jobs altogether, hurting their economic prospects, and our states’ economic rebound from the coronavirus. This cut makes no sense, particularly during these incredibly difficult times, and we urge the Governor and General Assembly to restore the full $1.3 million in state funding for our proven Head Start programs.”
Rhode Island Head Start Programs
· CHILD Inc.
· Children’s Friend & Service
· Comprehensive Community Action Program
· East Bay Community Action Program
· Meeting Street School
· South County Community Action, Inc.
· Tri-County Community Action Agency
· Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association, Inc.