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Government shutdown reaches 2,200 Georgia children

6:52 PM, Oct 2, 2013   |    comments
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GAINESVILLE, Ga. - Thirty Head Start centers may close this Friday unless members of Congress end their squabble over the government shutdown.

A total of 2,200 families would have to find alternative places to send their children if the centers close.

Melinda Rico has three children at the Head Start center in Gainesville. The center provides free child care and an early education while Rico works and goes to school.

She's not sure what she'll do if the government shutdown doesn't end and the center closes Friday.

"Child care is pretty expensive," said Rico. "I wouldn't even make enough to pay the babysitter. I would have to find another job, find two jobs and quit school."

The paychecks of 500 Head Start employees are at risk.

"It really puts me in a bind knowing that I might not be getting a paycheck," said teacher Brandy Brown. "My bills come out automatically. I don't know what to do."

The National Head Start Association says 19,000 nationwide have been told their services are coming to a temporary end thanks to the shutdown. The lack of funding is being felt at Head Start centers in 11 states.

The Head Start centers at risk in Georgia are operated by Ninth District Opportunity, Inc. The organization runs thirty Head Start programs in twenty Georgia counties.

Some of the centers are in metro areas like Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, and Douglas Counties.

Most, however, are in rural areas

"Unlike in the metro area where they may have other sources for child care, in some of our more rural counties that's not the case," said Head Start's Kay Laws.

Brandy Brown has a message for lawmakers in Washington.

"Would you like to help me pay my bills for the next few weeks?" asked Brown.

The centers that may close are working with parents to find other means of child care.

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