Government shutdown closes Head Start program in Bridgeport - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Government shutdown closes Head Start program in Bridgeport

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Action for Bridgeport Community Development Action for Bridgeport Community Development
BRIDGEPORT, CT (WFSB) -

With the government shutdown still in effect, low and middle class families are caught in the middle and feeling the hurt.

Head Start allowed low and middle income families to work and go to school while knowing their child was not only cared for, but educated.

On Tuesday, 1,200 children in Bridgeport had no one to look after them because the federally-funded Head Start had to abruptly shut down.

"I don't really know. It's gonna be hard," said parent Theresa Leon, who has a 3-year-old grandson, Tyrell.

Leon said Tyrell's mother, splits time between school and a job, so she has no time to watch her son during the day.

Leon said Tyrell's mother relied on Action for Bridgeport Community Development, which provides affordable day care.

"We're probably going to have to look somewhere else to put him," Leon said.

Tyrell had nowhere to go on Tuesday when families were greeted with a closed sign at Action for Bridgeport Community Development.

"There's going to be no Thanksgivings, no warm nights this season. There will absolutely be no Christmas," Krysta of Bridgeport said.

The city's fiscal year for Head Start ended Monday night. So the Head Start at the Action for Bridgeport Community Development was the first to be shut down.

"We're not able to provide childcare services for those 1,000 children because of the government shutdown," said Bill Bevaqua, with Action for Bridgeport Community Development.

However, town officials said it's only a matter of time before others towns' fiscal years end, and they will face the same fate.

"I don't think there's a reasonable excuse to take these things away from these kids, the middle class family," said Vilma Santos of Manchester.

The state also funds Head Start programs, but they contribute about a fifth of what's required to keep Action for Bridgeport Community Development afloat.

Organizers said they expect only 200 of the 1,200 children will be able to return by week's end.

"These are real children, real folks who are genuinely interested in maintaining employment," Bevaqua said. "They can't do it their hands are tied."

If the money doesn't come back, families said they will be forced to make some drastic changes.

"She's probably going to have to let go of her job and stay home with him," Leon said.

Meetings were held on Tuesday where officials were brainstorming a long-term plan. However, they are waiting to see what Congress will do first.

The government shutdown is also affecting workers at the Action for Bridgeport Community Development. The 300 employees at Head Start that may be let go, if a solution isn't found soon.

"Absolutely, you're talking about real people, real children, real folks who are genuinely interested in maintaining employment and being responsible citizens, but they can't do it," Bevaqua said. "Their hands are tied."

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