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Shutdown having minimal effect on local Head Start — so far

SALISBURY — Rowan County’s Head Start program, which serves close to 400 children and their families, has been affected only minimally by the federal government shutdown.
But that could change dramatically if the funding gridlock in Washington extends past this month.
Federally funded Head Start is the primary program of the Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency, and it has four Head Start sites in Salisbury and one each in Kannapolis, China Grove, Cleveland and East Spencer.
Vanessa Barber, director of Head Start here, said her program’s funding cycle — and those of 54 other Head Start agencies in North Carolina — is different from some other programs which have had to close.
The Head Start programs closing down have funding cycles that go from Oct. 1-Sept. 30. The Rowan Head Start budget year ends Oct. 31.
“We are still able to draw down our funds to maintain the program,” said Stan Wilson, executive director of the Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency.
Wilson said administrative support services in Head Start’s regional office in Atlanta have been closed because of the federal government shutdown. Employees in that office provide local agencies technical assistance with financial questions and program operations.
Of the 1,600 Head Start programs in the country, only about 20 have been affected immediately by the federal shutdown, which took effect Tuesday.
As the shutdown continues, more pre-kindergarten classes of Head Start could be canceled. The program provides education, nutrition, health and other services to some 1 million low-income children in the United States.
Wilson said Salisbury-Rowan Community Service Agency’s Head Start program already faced substantial challenges because of sequestration budget cuts. His program lost $411,254.
Nationwide, the sequestration budget cuts eliminated services to an estimated 57,000 children.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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