One of the best ways to help close the education gap for low-income kids is Head Start.
Up to 36,000 children around Michigan, and their families, rely on Head Start for free early childhood education, meals, and support services for parents, all of which are funded by the federal government.
But Chalkbeat Detroit reports 11 Head Start centers in Southwest Detroit are closing by the end of the year. That means some 420 children will have to be transferred to other centers, and 122 employees will be laid off. The affected centers are run by Southwest Solutions, a social service organization.
What happened? And are other Head Start centers in Michigan on shaky ground too?
To answer our questions, Robin Bozek, the executive director of the Michigan Head Start Association, joined Stateside today.
On why the centers are closing
A number of factors have shaped the funding structure of the Head Start facilities. While federal dollars can be used to educate children and provide meals, “finding appropriate facilities is a struggle,” Bozek said. There’s also the issue of whether the facilities build relationships with the local community, she said.
On the future of Head Start in Michigan
Around the state, Bozek believes Head Start is working solidly. “We are embedded in every town and city and we work with our local communities, so it’s very reflective of the local communities,” she said. Given that nearly one in four children are born into poverty in Michigan, “the need for Head Start is stronger than ever.”
Listen above for the full conversation.