Just a few weeks ago, it seemed as though the Head Start and Early Head Start budget crisis was over. Education program funding was supposed to be back on the rise, helping low income families right here in Massachusetts and across the country to get access to the early education programs that they so desperately need. However, a state budget meeting was held recently in which a group known as “Stand for Children,” came seeking an increase in funding for preschool programs in the state.
The most recent count shows that over 40,000 low income families in the State of Massachusetts are now on the waiting list for access to state-sponsored preschool programs. The state needs more education program funding if they are to get all of these children into Massachusetts Head Start and other local educational services. The number of families left behind on the wait list has doubled just since 2011, with more and more families needing help for children who are preparing to go to public school in the coming years.
Experts say that finding funding for the local state programs and Early Head Start budget is important because the children who need this program the most are in danger of falling through the cracks. If they are in preschool, these children can learn all of the basics before they get to school so they will be ready to learn at at higher national level. Children who do not receive early educational programming do not do as well in school as children who were involved in these programs.
While officials are aware of the growing waiting list and the importance of early childhood education, the need for education program funding continues to increase. The Governor is currently asking for $15 million, which may sound like a lot, but it is the exact amount of funding that was granted the year before. The “Stand for Children” group came to testify before the committees to ask for the highest amount of funding available to provide children with access to Massachusetts Head Start programs.
In the City of Springfield, Massachusetts alone, there are over 3500 families who are in need of placement into a state-run or local early education program. The representatives from “Stand for Children” has said that these children and their families become “trapped” on these wait lists simply because the resources are not available to move them off. An increase in funding is needed if these programs are to continue. The current budget has been passed for 2015, however the budget proposal from the House won’t be made until April, and the final budget should be finalized by the first of July.
The best solution for Massachusetts Head Start and other education program funding administrators is to focus on lowering monthly and annual costs for the things that you use the most in order to overcome budget shortfalls. For example, it is possible to reduce food costs, while still maintaining quality and nutritional requirements through FoodSource Plus, a free program that provides human services programs with the tools they need to meet their budget needs. An Early Head Start budget or other similar program can experience a 10-35 percent savings each year just by using the free tools and services available through FoodSource Plus.
The program works by analyzing the current spending habits and menus from your Massachusetts Head Start or other educational program, painting a picture of the amount of money that is spent, the amount of food that gets wasted and any other important figures that negatively impact your Head Start or Early Head Start budget. FoodSource Plus helps administrators to reduce food costs through USDA database created menus with complete Nutrition Analysis and a full Cost Analysis that shows the cost of every single item on the menu for budgeting purposes.
FoodSource Plus also figures out both the short and long-term needs of your program to help figure out what foods need to be ordered for this week, next week, the entire month or any time period that you want to purchase supplies for through the program. A list of pre-vetted vendors are used to ensure that your program gets the best quality food and products at the best possible prices to help keep you within your education program funding spending limits.
To get started using FoodSource Plus for your Massachusetts Head Start, Early Head Start or other early childhood education program, just visit the website or call Toll Free at 1-866-248-4520 or, if you are in Massachusetts, call the local office in Seekonk at 1-508-336-6615. Our team of experienced professionals will provide you with all the information you need to decide whether or not the FoodSource Plus program is right for you. We can schedule you an appointment for a FREE analysis of your current spending and give you FREE advice on how to improve your program menus and reduce foods costs, while ensuring that each child gets the proper nutrition according to USDA standards.