Sheng Thao Oakland Metropolis Councilor Welcomes Rescue of Head-Begin Facilities from Closure | Oakland Information now
Oakland, California- Today, Oakland City Council unanimously voted to SAVE three head-start centers that were deemed closed by city staff after the city lost significant federal funding for failing to meet benchmarks set by the federal grantor. A trigger for the City of Oakland to reapply for Head Start grants was triggered as a symptom of not meeting the full benchmarks. In January 2021, city officials filed for the full amount of $ 17.8 million, but only $ 12.2 million was granted to the city.
Community members raised concerns about pending changes to the Oakland Head Start program after workers were informed of potential site closures and layoffs. These massive city government changes made a huge impact on community members, as Oakland Head Start provides free early childhood education and family services to low-income Oakland residents, and Head Start’s childcare workers have a long history of providing excellent care.
In response to this impending crisis, and in partnership with community groups, Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Council President Pro Tempore Sheng Thao and Councilor Carroll Fife proposed a budget change that includes $ 1.836 million from the General Purpose Fund for the Head-Start -Program to prevent the closure of the head-start centers in Franklin, Arroyo Viejo and Tassafaronga and layoffs of workers at these locations.
“All parents know that the first five years of child development have an enormous impact on their future and that these sensitive years are the building blocks for their success. Head Start is a vital resource for the kids and parents, and as a single mom who used and relied on Head Start for my own child, it was THE factor between being homeless or housing, being able or not to put food on the table, and for it to ensure that my son was prepared for kindergarten both emotionally and academically. Making sure every child in Oakland has a chance to be successful remains my top priority. Because of this, I fought for a feasibility study to set up a child, youth, and family division in the City of Oakland, and raised funds. The department’s goal is to connect the whole family, streamline and fully focus on the whole family, including all resources for our youth, families and seniors. I will continue to fight to ensure that Oakland Head Start is fully funded and that the Oakland children will not forget our future.
“I am disappointed that our Oakland Head Start families have gotten into this predicament. It is not just a matter of “reallocating” resources and “just” closing a few centers. This reorganization and closure of sites CREATES instability for our already marginalized families, it creates unnecessary barriers and stress for those who don’t have the capacity and time to figure out what Plan B will be because they rely on Head Start for quality Deliver to take care of our Oakland children so they can provide for their families. And for our Head Start employees, this is their job, which is also the way for their families to ensure stability and success. The city can do more, and that is exactly what I and my colleagues, President Bas, Vice Mayor Kaplan and Councilor Fife, have done. We thought outside the box in order to find means to fill this gap so that our children and families are not affected because the city has lost its full funding because it has not successfully achieved the benchmarks to be achieved. which we must insist on stronger supervision and consistent reporting to the entire city council. “
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