My name is Mo Gallegos and I am the current director of the Arizona Head Start Association which is the association that represents all of the head start programs across the state. I am here in Washington D.C. this week for two reasons, to educate ourselves about current and critical issues in education that are affecting our country and to try and get the attention of our congressional representatives in Arizona.
Coming here, we were concerned about the shutdown. If the shutdown had continued, long enough, into weeks, funding starts to shut down. All of the head start programs across Arizona, they serve over 22,000 children, those classrooms would just start to shut down. Bills wouldn’t get paid, rent wouldn’t get paid, It would have a very severe economic impact. The children wouldn’t be in classrooms, they wouldn’t be learning.
Anytime you break that continuity, even if it started up again in a week or two, then you have a lost period of time which is extremely critical to children. We have the head start classrooms, we work with childcare entities, these services would be affected. Many of the parents work full time so this would affect their ability to work. They rely on their children being in the classrooms or use the childcare services, so they can work. So, you do have an enormous ripple effect. Head start is serving some of the most vulnerable families, they are from the lowest income bracket, even though they are working, they are in poverty. So for them, not being able to work would be devastating. And that is always a concern, will it actually happen and how long will it last.”