Workforce Development

Critical Funding for Head Start, Services to Families Uncertain During Shutdown

October 4, 2013

In a new series that aims to promote the restoration of civil discourse, experts at the Aspen Institute weigh in on the consequences and policy ramifications — social, fiscal, and otherwise — of the US government shutdown of 2013.

As the federal government shutdown continues with no negotiations in progress, families and children around the country are feeling the brunt of the negative impacts. As many as 19,000 children in 11 states have lost access to their slots in the national Head Start program, which provides early education and social services for low-income children. This number comes after the recent loss of 57,000 children’s Head Start slots — as well as a reduction in pay and layoffs for Head Start staff — due to federal sequestration. The House will consider a bill to continue to finance Head Start — despite the shutdown — on October 5.

And some programs that help to supply food and nutritional and health assistance to the poorest of families, children, and single mothers may see their services cut back or completely unavailable until the government re-opens. The federal government funds the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and distributes the support to eligible families through the states. While most states say they are able to operate through the month of October, it’s unclear whether the WIC offices will be able to provide the full range of their services past October without additional federal funding.

In the video below, Anne Mosle, vice president and executive director of the Aspen Institute Ascend Program, explains in detail how the shutdown affects Head Start and programs like WIC. Moreover, she says, it is slowing the progress and innovation in the social service field.

More in this Series: