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Head Start Programs Continue in El Dorado Despite Shutdown

The Family and Children Together organization says their fully funded until October 31st.
EL DORADO, AR. - Many government funded agencies have felt the effects of the shutdown including those who provide educational services.

“Families and Children Together”, also known as F.A.C.T.,  manage 18 Head Start programs in 5 counties across South Arkansas. They say the government shutdown has not forced them to turn families away just yet. However, on October 31st, if the impasse continues, they’ll be forced to shut their doors.

Brenda Holder is the Executive Director of F.A.C.T. in El Dorado.  She says they're already trying to make contingency plans, to see how many people they would have to notify and how many positions they would eliminate.  Many Head Start programs have closed down, turning away families across the US.  Holden tells me she can only imagine what her colleagues are going through.

 “It boggles the mind,” said Holden. “We're not sure what we would have to do except send children home, send staff home.”

She’s not going to send anyone home just yet and tells us that she's hopeful things will get going again in Washington.

 “Until then, we're gonna go just business as usual and keep these children coming and we want people to know that we are hear and we are here working and we are hoping for the best.”

Meanwhile, Superintendent Bow Watson tells us the shutdown has had a direct effect on the largest provider of education in Union County, The El Dorado School District.

 “Right now it seems to be effecting us in one program and that's our free and reduced lunch program, “ said Watson. Like most public school districts, meal services are paid for through subsidies from the federal government.  All that changed on October 1st for El Dorado.

Watson adds,  “The district will be funding those meals totally at this point with the opportunity to claim and ask for a refund once government gets back to full force.”

The school district wants to reiterate to folks that free and reduced lunch programs will not be eliminated during the government shutdown. Along with the Head Start administrators, they are currently in good position weather this storm, even with the battle in Washington taking longer than expected.
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