Government shutdown threatens Head Start programs

Government shutdown threatens Head Start programs

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More than 150 families are scrambling for last minute childcare after being told the government shutdown will shutter Head Starts across metro Atlanta.

Many Head Start programs were supposed to be funded by the federal government this week, but the debate on Capitol Hill is now closing them.

Olga Avila and her 4-year-old son, Christian, are one of more than 150 families that won't be able to take their children to Cobb County Head Start next week because its funding lapsed this week. She says Christian has learned a lot here.

"I'm scared he might forget some of the things he's learned," Avila said. "It's not the same at home and being in school with a teacher…him learning about something."

But children and their families aren't the only ones suffering because of the shutdown.

Head Start director Michelle Patterson says hundreds of dedicated workers will be furloughed in the region.

"Among the 20 counties here it's gonna impact over 500 employees that are gonna be furloughed without pay," Patterson said.

Patterson had to write a letter to parents explaining why Head Start is closing, but she's also having a hard time understanding why Congress has allowed it to come to this.

"Not knowing when it's going to be back or when the government will be operational again is very frustrating. We just take it day by day," Patterson said.

Some Head Start classrooms in Georgia are dually funded by the federal and state government through the Georgia Lottery, but without a congressional budget, they will have to shut their doors as well.

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