As government shutdown continues, Head Start stays open -- but, for how long?

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As the impasse over the federal budget continues, an extended federal government shutdown may force some local Head Start programs to suspend their operations.

On Tuesday, Palm Beach County commissioners directed county staff to continue Head Start services through October 25th -- at an estimated cost of $1.2 million.

Commissioners said it was unclear, however, if the federal government would reimburse the County for the expense.

In West Palm Beach, Timothy Wingate, Jr., a director at Apostolic Child Development Center, said 116 children could be affected by the budget impasse.

"We've been serving children in this community since 1971," Wingate said. "We need to wake up and see what we are really doing to these kids. We need to make sure that these children have a place to go to get an education."

Head Start, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was developed in 1965 as a summer-school program for low-income children.

It was expanded throughout the 1980s and the 1990s to help millions of low-income children transition to kindergarten.

The National Head Start Association has estimated that nearly 19,000 children have lost or are at risk of losing Head Start services because of the government shutdown.

Palm Beach County commissioners said they would evaluate the effects of the shutdown on October 22.

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