Congresswoman Castor leads cheers for Head Start reauthorization

04/30/07 Mitch E. Perry
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The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote this week to re-authorize the Head Start program for another 5 years. 


The Federal program was established in 1965, and is generally re-authorized every 5 years.  It mostly serves 3 and 4 year old children from low income families  by providing them a comprehensive program to meet various needs.


This morning at the West Tampa Head Start facility, Congresswoman Kathy Castor said the program deserves re-authorization (roll tape#1 o.q.”in this community”)


Nationally there are over a million children in the program, but thousands of others are on a waiting list.  Louis Finney is the Division Director for Head Start in Hillsborough County.  He says there are currently 3,070 kids in the County’s program , with  2,200 kids are on a waiting list (roll tape#2 o.q.”     to the public school”)


Several years ago, when Head Start was coming up for reauthorization, the Bush Adminstration attempted to make some changes .


Some of those , such as  block granting  Head Start programs in 8 states , and what detractors said was permitting discrimination on religious grounds, were recently stripped out of the bill.

Funding for Head Start hasn’t been increased for several years.   Louis Finney from Hillsborough County Head Start says that one thing he looks forward to with the re-authorization will be an increase in the income eligibility for parents to be able to qualify to get their kids into the program (roll tape#3 o.q.”poverty guidelines”)


In addition, Finney also runs the Early Head Start Program, which serves infants, toddlers and pregnant woman   (roll tape#4 o.q.”discussed in Congress”)


Critics– including some in the Bush Adminstration –say that Head Start not has not kept up with new research showing how soon young children can learn.   But their plans to change the program several years went nowhere in the Senate, and the new Congress appears poised. 


Head Start was became a federal program in 1965 – as part of then President Lyndon Johnson’s War On Poverty.              Then Tampa area freshman Congressman Sam Gibbons was able to have one of the first Head Start programs in the County based in Hillsborough County, where it was led by Delia Sanchez             (roll tape#5 o.q.”right, right”)


The House will vote on re-authorizing Head Start on Wednesday.


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