The Head Start program, a favorite of President Barack Obama, had an interesting solution for the problems caused by sequestration: low-income children in the program were sent home ten days early. At the same time, 2,800 Head Start leaders spent a total of $752,059 attending a three-day conference in National Harbor, MD.
The money used for the conference came from the program’s Training and Technical Assistance funds. Those funds were available because Congress allocates them separately from Head Start’s operating costs, and the Office of Head Start took the hit from the sequester instead.
The meeting, titled the “National Birth to Five Leadership Institute” conference, featured rooms for $224 per night and included seminars and lectures to help teach parents, educators, and administrators to use data more efficiently.
Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of Administration for Children & Families’ office of public affairs, said, “The Office of Head Start is committed to working with programs to ensure the provision of high-quality services continue during this challenging time of sequestration.”
But Vanessa Gibbons, director of Jackson County Civic Action Committee in Moss Point, MS, was frustrated with the situation: “They specifically told us we could not cut our training budget. Those dollars were not even in the equation. That would have made it easy. But that was not even an option.”