Government Shutdown Cuts All Funding for Dothan City Head Start

Dothan, AL - Across the country, many head start preschoolers must stay home because of the government shutdown. However, local school leaders have rescued Dothan's head start program, for now.

Parents packed into Dothan's Head Start auditorium Wednesday looking for answers.

They are angry and confused as well as concerned for their children’s future.

“They should not gridlock over something and take from our children. Our children really need us. They count on us,” said parent Misty Ellison.

Head start uses federal funds to provide pre-school education to low income families. As of October 1st that funding is gone.

“This is going to affect us all as far as our jobs and children are concerned. It's like a domino effect. If this happens it's just going to cause those dominos to all fall,” said Ellison.

The Dothan school board will fund the program until November 5th. However if Congress doesn't reach a deal by then the doors could close.

Forty-five employees would be out of a job, and parents would have to find childcare.

“I'll have to pay for daycare. It'll have to come out of my pocket. I'm a low income mother as it is. That's just going to be an added expense that I really can't afford, which could cause me to miss work at my own job,” said Ellison.

Aside from added costs, parents are concerned if the school is closed long term their children's education could suffer.

“The teachers have skills that some of us don't. They have the patience to teach them how to use their words and their letters,” said another parent Cindy Alexander.

Parents plan on calling, emailing, and petitioning congress to make their children a priority

Tiffany Blackmon, who has had three children attend a Head Start program wants to be proactive

“We are a small community. Dothan, Alabama is a small community compared to Washington D.C. but we need to let them know that we as the people do love our children and their education comes first”

Dothan Superintendent Tim Wilder says he has been working tirelessly to ensure if no deal is met in the next month that he can find more funding to keep the head start programs running.

More than three hundred children are enrolled in the Head Start Program.

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