The effects of the federal shutdown have begun to ripple across Connecticut. In Bridgeport, 13 Head Start sites have been closed, leaving needy families scrambling.
Head Start is a federal school readiness program for low-income children from birth to 5 years old. Nationwide, programs serving more than 3,000 preschool students have been forced to close because of the government shutdown.
Bill Bevacqua is Deputy Director at Action for Bridgeport Community Development which runs 13 Head Start programs that have closed. He was guest on NPR’s Here and Now.
"We have approximately 1200 children that are enrolled," he said. "Virtually all the children in Head Start are children of working parents and these are parents that are jobs that are not high paying jobs. So these are folks who do not make a lot of money. They live from paycheck to paycheck and they don’t have the capability to obtain private childcare services in the event that the HS program isn’t available to them. So they’re in a serious dilemma."
Bevacqua said parents are calling on relatives for help: "We heard from one parent that she was going to be taking her children to relatives in New York City so she could report to her job."
Head Start also feeds these children at least two meals a day. The Bridgeport program has made plans with the FoodBank to try and provide meals. In addition, Head Start had to send layoff notices to 313 Connecticut staff members.