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Sequestered Rockland Head Start Funds Restored

(From L to R) Head Start of Rockland Board Member Mary Anne Drew-Evans;  Head Start of Rockland Executive Director Ouida Foster Toutebon;   Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski;  Congresswoman Nita Lowey;  Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence; Rockland County Legislator Aney Paul

(From L to R) Head Start of Rockland Board Member Mary Anne Drew-Evans and Executive Director Ouida Foster Toutebon,
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, Congresswoman Nita Lowey,
Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence,
Rockland County Legislator Aney Paul

Like taking candy from a baby, the 2013 sequestration deprived Rockland County kids when Head Start of Rockland lost federal funding last year for a summer program for four year olds. Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) announced on Wednesday that those funds had been restored as part of a $4.9 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Head Start of Rockland provides high quality preschool, special education and early childhood education to about 1,000 low-income children in Rockland County. “All students deserve access to the best quality care and education to help them prepare for school. Head Start and Early Head Start are absolutely critical in providing these early childhood education services,” said Lowey. “Throughout my time in Congress, I have pushed for greater investment in Head Start because strong early education can do wonders to close and prevent achievement gaps.” The increased federal funding will be used to help low-income families get access to primary health care and education services.

The funding restores the 5.27% cut due to the 2013 sequestration cuts and gives an additional 1.3% COLA for staff, according to Head Start of Rockland, Inc. Executive Director Ouida Foster Toutebon. “The board of directors, policy council, parents, staff and children wish to thank Congresswoman Nita Lowey for all of her efforts and support for early childhood programs nationwide,” said  Toutebon.

As the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and a member of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Conference Committee, Lowey advocated increasing early education expenditures by more than $1 billion in 2014. “The sequester’s senseless cuts to vital initiatives that help educate our children, support the vulnerable in society and create jobs were counterproductive,” said Lowey. “With this restoration and increase in funding for Rockland’s Head Start Centers, we see the great results of our efforts to restore smart federal investments in our communities.”


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