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Farmworker pre-K(This post is part of a blog series on the crucial role of quality early childhood education and child care in caring for our youngest residents, creating thriving communities, and promoting a healthy economy. Read the introduction to this blog series and learn more about the programs we?ll be discussing here.)

By John Menditto

In this year’s State of the Union address, President Obama announced a bold and ambitious plan to expand preschool services. The “Preschool for All” Initiative calls for $75 billion in new funding during the next decade to partner with states and help expand access to low- and middle-income children who are not currently enrolled in preschool programs.

Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has been tireless in his advocacy for this new, national initiative. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Secretary Duncan as part of a small coalition of community-based groups who serve the Latino community and ask him how the Administration would make sure that the Preschool for All Initiative did not exclude by its design the preschool-aged children of migrant farm workers. Secretary Duncan assured the group that “Preschool for All” meant exactly that: there would be no asterisk excepting out farmworker families. He invited those in attendance to provide the Administration with information on how to design preschool services to ensure the children of farmworker families did not lose out on the benefits of a preschool education.  Read More

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The federal government shutdown has not had an immediate impact on the 55 agencies that run federally-funded Head Start programs in North Carolina — yet, said Head Start State Collaboration Office’s Director Khari Garvin.

“But that’s because of their funding cycles,” Garvin explained.

Head Start programs across the country are being forced to close down thanks to the federal government shutdown that began yesterday. In Talladega, Alabama, a Head Start agency had to close programs across six counties that serve 770 students, many of whom have nowhere else to go for daytime care while their parents work.

Those programs are among the first to close because their funding cycles run October 1-September 30.

In North Carolina, no programs are on that funding cycle. “If the shutdown continues, say, another 90 days, then programs will begin to be affected,” Garvin told NC Policy Watch.

Dora Jones, director of Cheaha Regional Head Start agency in Talladega, had a message for lawmakers in her interview with NPR.

“Please think of the poor innocent children that’s being affected because two groups refuse to come together as adults and make a compromise.”