Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that the state will provide $800,000 in expedited funds to help ensure that the Head Start program in Bridgeport remains open in the weeks ahead. The Governor was joined by local officials and directors at the Head Start center at 1070 Park Avenue in Bridgeport.
Bridgeport Head Start is run by Action for Bridgeport Community Development (ABCD) and serves 1,245 children. However, the federal shutdown that began on October 1 stopped funding from reaching the center. Earlier assistance from the State provided last week has allowed State Funded classrooms to operate on a limited basis for 494 children; however the new expedited funds will allow Bridgeport Head Start to return to normal capacity for the remainder of the month.
"Head Start programs across our state provide daily meals and early childhood education -- both critical components to raising successful citizens," Governor Malloy said. "These services are vital for the success of many children in low-income families, and the sad reality is that they are the ones paying the price for political games being played in Washington. It's unacceptable."
"This action by Governor Malloy has given us an incredible sense of relief because we now know that the hard hit children and families will now be able to return to normalcy after the stunning federal decision to shut down our program," said Charles B. Tisdale, Executive Director ABCD Inc. "We are grateful to Governor Malloy and his administration for this generous evidence of concern."
The Bridgeport ABCD program is one of 18 Head Start centers in Connecticut that serve roughly 6,621 students. It is the only center in Connecticut on an October budget cycle, making it the most directly impacted by the federal shutdown that began on October 1. Programs in numerous other Connecticut cities could also face closure beginning November 1 if Congress fails to adopt a budget.
"Our Bridgeport ABCD Head Start program serves hundreds of children and their families every day providing meals and early childhood education so critical to their future success," said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. "The withdrawal of support from the federal government, which is mired at this moment in political infighting, has left these families without many options. Thank you to Governor Malloy and his administration for allocating state funds to keep ABCD open and serving the families of Bridgeport. I share the Governor's sentiments that Republican leaders in Congress should stop holding working-class families hostage."
"Obviously, Connecticut cannot pick up the slack for the entire federal government," continued Governor Malloy. "But we can try to do what's possible in the short term to make sure our most vulnerable citizens receive the services they need. This is a problem that is caused by Washington, and that has to be fixed in Washington. Once again I am calling on House Republicans to stop their political gamesmanship and pass a clean continuing resolution that funds the government, keeps people at work, and keeps critical services available to those in need."