Government shutdown won't impact Florida Head Start unless it continues through holidays
Head Start programs in Florida have reserves they can rely on in the event of a government shutdown. But agency officials said that backup money could run out if a shutdown extends into the holiday season.
Over 5,700 Florida kids and families rely on Head Start for early childhood education, community-based programming and essentials like food, diapers, wipes and even formula.
Wanda Minick is the executive director of Florida Head Start Association. She said the majority of programs in the state have reserves they can rely on in the event of a government shutdown, but any shutdown will have some effect on the programs.
"No matter the length of a federal shutdown, [it] has the potential to unleash a wave of uncertainty and hardship on children and their families who depend on early Head Start and Head Start as well as our workforce," said Minick. "We just need Congress to come together for an agreement as quickly as possible."
If the shutdown continues into November and December, Minick said there might be a possibility of closures and furloughs and "would likely directly impact our Head Start programs in our state."
Minick says closing down Head Start programs could hurt children who have grown up in the COVID bubble even more.
She says for many, Head Start has been their own social interaction and access to early childhood education since 2020.
Regardless of the possibility of a shutdown, families will continue to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits through October. And the Department of Agriculture does not expect the free and reduced lunch program to be impacted.