Local Head Start programs remain open

Carol Rolf/Contributing Writer Originally Published October 6, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 4, 2013 at 11:02 a.m.
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The Community Action Program for Central Arkansas, headquartered in Conway, serves 1,106 children through its Head Start program in several counties, including White and Lonoke. Head Start is an early child education program for children ages 3 to 5.

As of Wednesday, the centers remained open despite the fact that they receive federal funding.

Jennifer Welter, Head Start director, said CAPCA received its annual funding for the Head Start program in September, prior to the shutdown that began Tuesday.

“Our problem is with the [United States Department of Agriculture Nutrition Assistance Programs] that reimburse us for the meals we serve the children,” Welter said. “As of Oct. 1 , we cannot file any claims for reimbursement.

“So, we have had to go into our nonfederal funds, such as community donations, and there is not very much of that. We are taking this day by day. We hope there is a resolution soon.”

Local Head Start centers can be found in Searcy, Bald Knob, Beebe, Kensett, Lonoke, Cabot and Rose Bud.

Archie Musselman, CAPCA executive director, said some of CAPCA’s other programs might be affected if the government shutdown continues for very long.

“We have some carry-over money if this [government shutdown] doesn’t last forever,” he said. “We’ll be in pretty good shape until the end of October.”

He added, however, that if the Head Start program does not receive reimbursements soon, “We will have to shut the doors.”

Musselman said that as of Wednesday, there had not been any employees who had been put on furlough.

“But it could very well affect our staff if it goes on past October,” he said.

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