The federal Head Start program – which serves children from low-income families – frequently competes for 4-year-olds with state early childhood programs.•
As New Mexico taxpayers shoulder more of the cost of preschool programs, federal money for Head Start is being sent back to Washington. Around the state, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been lost over the past decade, with millions at risk, say Head Start directors.• The rate of child poverty has risen in New Mexico over the past decade, yet Head Start now serves about 600 fewer children than it did 10 years ago, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.• And while state pre-K enrollments have grown dramatically during the same period, nearly half of 4-year-olds and more than three-quarters of 3-year-olds aren’t attending any state or federal preschool program, according to the institute.
Experts in child development have long known that the period between birth and age 5 is pivotal for children and can often determine a child’s chances of success later in life. Given that reality, it’s incumbent on us, as a state, to use every Head Start dollar available to help children. Sending those funds back to Washington borders on malpractice.Veteran educators are baffled over why our state can’t figure out how to combine state and federal funds to provide a wider pre-K network for our state’s children.