Shutdown May Close Daycare for Low-Income Families (VIDEO)

By Stephanie Parkinson - 21Alive

October 9, 2013 Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) - The government shutdown is hitting close to home for hundreds of families in the Summit City.

A lack of funding from the federal government is putting Head Start, a nationwide daycare program for low income families, in jeopardy.

"We need the government to choose to go back to work," said Mary Lee Freeze, Director, Head Start.

Head Start is federally funded. So with the government closed the federal grants aren't being issued for this program.

In Fort Wayne, CANI runs Head Start. Each week more than 700 families take advantage of the program.

"The government shutdown isn't affecting us currently. But if it stays shutdown we will have an issue," said Freeze.

The fiscal year for Fort Wayne's program begins November 1. Which means if the government is still closed they won't have the grant money they need to keep the program running.

"The longer it goes the worse it's feeling," said Freeze.

If it does close its doors, the hundreds of families who use Head Start will be left with very few options.

"It will be a hardship for them because we're their opportunity for their child," said Freeze.

"This program, if they shut this down it's just like, what would I do?" said Clarice Barlowe, has a daughter in Head Start.

Clarice Barlowe is a mother of two. She's a college student. And one of her daughters requires a lot of her attention, because she has special needs.

"At home it would be more focused on my disabled child, my homework," said Barlowe.

Barlowe also volunteers at Head Start. She says volunteering helped her decide she wants to work toward a career in social work.

The program's director says she was optimistic at first, but is getting more worried about the possibility of having to close. Still she's hopeful lawmakers in Washington will end the shutdown before November 1.

"I don't know what the magic wand is, but I do believe in communication so I think they need to talk to each other and come to some agreement," said Freeze.

But until lawmakers in Washington reach an agreement, Mary Lee and mothers like Clarice are left wondering how much longer the doors will stay open.

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