The federal government’s proposing to change the way it sends funding from Washington for an early child development program. Sheila Hansen with Iowa Headstart explains why it looks from here like a bad idea.She says now the money comes straight from the federal government to Headstart programs, and a bill in the House would let local governments apply to receive the money so it could go through state or local governments in some way that’s not yet clear. Hansen says there’s a concern that once the money’s rerouted through layers of local government, some jurisdictions that have budget troubles would find it tempting to funnel off some money from HeadStart to their own general funds. Hansen says some of the program’s proposed new requirements would also be burdensome. Requiring half the teachers to have a bachelors degree by 2008, something program operators agree with but the bill has no money to do it or to pay them the higher wages they’ll deserve with that higher qualification. Hansen says though the current proposal doesn’t look that good, the program COULD use improvements. Right now HeadStart only serves one out of every three kids and they’d like to reach more, especially with the Early Headstart program which only reaches 3% of infants and toddlers and could have better results the earlier they’re reached. Hansen says HeadStart administrators agree with some of the proposals in the bill like working more closely with existing programs and agencies.
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