About forty percent of the children eligible for head start programs in Lane County can’t get in. Today (Tuesday), Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley visited a head start center in Eugene. While there, he criticized cuts to early childhood education in a recent U.S. senate budget.
At the Whiteaker Head Start Center a classroom of pre-kindergarteners welcome Senator Merkley with a song.
(kids and teacher sing:”Mr. Merkley’s here today! We’ll all clap our hands because Mr. Merkley’s here today!”)
Then, he sits in a little chair with a classic children’s book.
Merkley reading: “On early Sunday morning, the warm sun came up and pop out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar…”
Eligibility here is based on low-income and other risk factors. This head start serves over 250 children from birth to four years. There are currently more than 300 lane county kids on a waiting list. Merkley says the Senate budget is “a bad budget”- instead of cutting slots for these programs, congress should be increasing them.
Merkley: “Here with these children in this classroom, I’m thinking about which one of these children would not have been able to benefit from this program if that Senate budget survives.”
As the senator travels the region endorsing the benefits of early childhood education, the Executive Director of Lane County Head Start is in Washington D.C. lobbying against cuts.
Tomorrow, (Tuesday 3/31/15) Senator Jeff Merkley will be at the Clubhouse of Oak Valley Community in Talent to talk about how the Senate budget cuts could affect Medicare prescription benefits.