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House Debt Ceiling Bill could lead to 2,800 children losing Head Start Services in Washington State

Washington State Association of Head Start and ECEAP (WSA) Calls on President and Congressional Negotiators to Pass Budget Agreement That Doesn’t Hurt Kids

Media release: According to the White House budget office, the House passed “debt ceiling” bill would cut Head Start by 20 percent. In Washington State it is estimated that it would reduce enrollment in Head Start by 2,800 children. The bill passed the House 217 to 215. All the Democrats in the Washington congressional delegation opposed it, while Congressman Dan Newhouse and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted in support of the bill.

Over the past two weeks President Biden and Speaker McCarthy have met to come to a bipartisan compromise on lifting the debit ceiling. So far both sides appear to be far apart. Today they met again to see if a compromise could be achieved without any resolution.

Joel Ryan, Executive Director said: “Trying to reduce the deficit on the backs of children and families most hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic is economically foolish, shortsighted, and mean-spirited. We should instead do everything we can to ensure that all children, especially those that have dealt with several years of disrupted learning, are ready for school by funding programs like Head Start, not cutting them.”

We asked Head Start programs within Washington State how they might be affected by a potential 20% cut. Here are a few responses:

Okanogan County Child Development Association A 20% reduction equates to nearly $1M and would require us to drastically cut programs. I would anticipate the only way to make that type of reduction is to reduce programs - cut slots, lay off staff, close one or more centers, and reduce or completely eliminate transportation services. Living in one of the most rural and remote counties in Washington State, these kind of cuts would have devastating effects on the families in our communities by limiting the availability and access to quality early learning programs.

Neighborhood House A 20 percent cut to our budget would lead to closing classrooms, increasing classroom sizes and ratios, and eliminating teacher positions. This would be incredibly unfair to the children and families we serve in the Seattle area—especially the many immigrant families that rely on our services.

Puget Sound ESD They estimate that they would need to cut their enrollment by 258 children and lay off 48 staff.

Lummi Indian Head Start There is no way we can keep all classrooms open with that (20% cut). We aren't competitive already when it comes to wages. My teacher with a bachelor's in education makes $13 an hour less than public school teachers.

Skagit Valley College Head Start Numbers of children that would impact would likely be in the neighborhood of 60 preschool kids on top of 24 early (aged 0-3) kids.

Family Services of Grant County We would most likely have to drop one classroom and some home based Early Head Start slots, and close a small center. There is no way we could sustain a 20% cut without cutting program services to children.

Colville Tribe A 20% cut would lead to closing 2 classrooms and dropped service for 40 kids.


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