Proposed Rules For Head Start Could Mean Competitive Funding

Head Start and Early Head Start serves hundreds of low-income Texoma families.

The federally funded program depends on grants to operate, but, some proposed rules could shake up how things are run.

While the government's goal is better quality for your kids as Newschannel 6 Lindsey Rogers reports, it could mean a loss of money all together for some Head Start programs.

"I don't want any of our Head Starts to loose their funding because we do help the children and their families," Jacqueline Jones said.

She is the director for Early Head Start in Wichita Falls.

Between three locations, they serve more than 100 children, teens and families.

Jones said the federal government does a review of their program every three years.

They are actually preparing for the next visit which will be in November.

"They look at our fiscal operations, our program operations and this is to get the best quality program for the children and families," Jones said.

In an effort to reshape and raise the quality in Head Start programs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced plans to require low-performing Head Start programs to compete for continued funding.

"I wouldn't say it's a good idea to have a competition. I would say it's a good idea for them to find funding for all of the programs because it is a much needed service for our low income families," Jones said.

The proposed rules are designed to promote accountability.

The bottom 25 percent of Head Start programs that don't meet the classroom instruction, health and safety and financial accountability standards would no longer be able to receive funding without making improvements.

While Jones believes strongly in high quality service and care, she feels there is a another way to enforce it rather than taking away funds.

"I just think we need to be monitored as we are currently. The monitoring is awesome by the feds and I appreciate that from them," she said.

The Early Head Start program in Wichita Falls is currently full and has a waiting list.

Jones said without their free education, health, food and social services, many Texoma families wouldn't be able to afford private care.

"It is so much needed here in Wichita Falls. So, I'm going to be advocating for more funds to expand our program not lose our program," Jones said.

Jones encourages Head Start families and all in our community to speak out about these proposed regulations.

You can post comments on a government web site by clicking here now through December 21st.

Lindsey Rogers, Newschannel 6