This week Frederick County Commissioners voted to cut off county funding for Head Start programs, and during the discussion two of the commissioners seemed to say if mothers would stay at home instead of working, they wouldn't need the programs.
Head Start centers around Frederick County help nearly 300 three and four year olds children from low-income families get ready for kindergarten.
‘They provide child care, and they feed you and they give good training classes,’ said Karen Escatell, a working mother of three whose children attend Head Start programs.
Now the centers will have to get by without about half of their funding -- $2.3 million -- after commissioners voted to cut it to try and close a budget gap.
The newspaper Gazette.net reported that during the discussion of the issue, County Commissioner Paul Smith said, ‘As many of you know, I had a lot of kids and my wife stayed home at a significant sacrifice in those early years, because she knew she had to be with those kids. I know everybody isn't able to survive doing that, but clearly if we can strengthen marriage, we can decrease the number of children we have to reach.'
Commissioner Kirby Delauter added, according to the newspaper, 'My wife is college educated and could go out and get a very good job. She gave that up for 18 years, so she could stay home with our kids and we gave up a lot to do that. I agree with commissioner smith. The marriage thing is very important.’
Jo-Ann Hurley's children attend Head Start programs -- and she told us she is a stay-at-home mom. ‘I'm home every day and I'm at every one of my kids' school at least once or twice a week.
But Hurley has broadened the definition of stay-at-home – she works the midnight shift at a local convenience store. ‘I work overnight, you know to try to bring some income in,’ she said – adding that for her, sleep is rare: ‘’Two or three hours a day usually. And on my nights off.’
And she says the county commissioners have no idea how hard she works. ‘It's not just parents staying home. Everybody needs to have two jobs,’ she said.
Head Start coordinators say the program will go on. ‘There will still be Head Start services in our county,’ said Margaret Nusbaum of the Frederick County Citizens Services Division. ‘But they will be managed by a different entity.’
That entity, a private company called ‘Community Development Institute’ won't have Frederick County's $2-point-3 million to help.
‘There is going to be some adjustments to the program,’ Nusbaum said.
And as for those comments: ‘Well, our commissioners are entitled to their opinions’ she said.
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