News 12 This Morning/Wednesday Oct. 2, 2013
(WRDW)--As the partial government shutdown enters a second day, many parents are wondering if the closing non-essential positions and programs include educational programs that would directly impact their children.
Schools across the area benefit from federal Title I funding, giving students equal options like school-wide reading and math enhancement, free tutoring classes and the Head Start program.
"Head Start is a pre-school program that serves low income children, giving them opportunities for beginning their educational lives," said Ernestine Smith, CSRA Head Start Director.
Head Start is completely federally funded, which begs the question--is it considered a "non-essential" program?
Head Start Directory Ernestine Smith says for immediate future parents with children in Head Start don't need to worry.
"Our classes are still in operation. We do have funds available to carry through the rest of this week," said Smith.
After this week, Smith says it's a waiting game.
"We draw our funds down from the Treasurer," she explained. "We do not know whether or not it will be open after this week or not."
Richmond County School District officials shared a letter from the Department of Education, which explains how the shutdown could effect schools.
The letter says programs should not have to close unless the shutdown lasts for an "extended period of time," which Smith says she hopes doesn't happen for the sake of each and every student.
"I just hope that something will be done so that it won't impact the lives of the children and families negatively and that all services will be able to continue," she said.
Head Start officials did a test yesterday to see if the funds were still available. We've been told they were, so for the forseeable future, Head Start will stay opened.
College students could also be impacted. Those with Pell Grants or in the Direct Loans program will have already received their funding.
But, the future funding options could be largely impacted as government workers are forced to stay home, which will mean less workers handling the processing of future federal student loans.
Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Grants for free lunches could also be in jeopardy, but government officials report free lunch programs should be safe through the month of October.
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