Prolonged shutdown could close Head Start programs

By Matt Porter

October 8, 2013 Updated Oct 8, 2013 at 5:22 PM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) Head Start programs across the country are beginning to feel the effects of the week long government shut down as some shutter their doors or pull back on their hours.

Locally, Head Start programs say there is enough money to last through the end of October before decisions on whether to keep schools open need to be made.

Laura McAndrew comes in every day to teach pre-kindergarteners at Head Start school run by Opportunities in Endicott.

She has been following the shutdown since it began eight days ago.

"I was just wondering what about our program, is it going to be shut down? Are we going to get funding?" McAndrew said.

She said even a brief interruption could be harmful to the children.

"We have such a routine here and giving them a week off, or two or three weeks off. It would throw them totally off schedule," she said.

Opportunities for Broome services 259 students in Broome County at four different schools.

Executive director Mark Silvanic said his organization has already made cuts in an effort to prevent letting kids go.

"We were already cut by $109,000 here at Opportunities for Broome through the sequestration cuts, we were already doing more for less," Silvanic said.

If the shutdown goes into November, Silvanic said the organization will have to decide whether to keep their doors open.

"Come November 1, OFB is going to have to make a decision if we keep the head starts open, and if so, how long can we keep those open without funding," he said.

The non-profit employs 75 people from teachers to nutritionists.

Any of those jobs could be at risk for a furlough if the shutdown continues beyond funding.

"It is certainly going to be a difficult decision to make," Silvanic said.

Tioga Opportunities which runs Head Start programs in Tioga County said they also have enough funding to last through October.

It said it is approaching the shutdown one day at a time.