Navajo President Signs Emergency Measure to Ensure Head Start Operations

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
St. Michaels Head Start graduate Nikolett Wilson wears her cap with “pretty as a princess” written on it Friday at the Fort Defiance Chapter House.

Published March 5, 2018

WINDOW ROCK – President Russell Begaye said he will approve emergency legislation allocating $6.3 million to ensure Navajo Head Start operations continue.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday denied a preliminary injunction on behalf of Navajo Head Start that requested funding not be reduced from $23 million to $15.8 million.

The denial states that the federal government will provide approximately $15.8 million because Navajo Head Start currently has carryover funds available. For that reason, the federal court stated that the Navajo Nation was not facing immediate irreparable harm and ruled in favor of the National Head Start program, which is under the Department of Health and Human Services, denying approximately $7 million to the Navajo Nation.

The court stated that the reduced $15.8 million would be available Mar. 1.

“We have yet to receive any notice of any award from the federal government and I am disappointed in this decision. Because the federal government has chosen to not provide the necessary funds, the Nation was forced to introduce emergency legislation to keep our children and teachers in the classroom and our Head Start buses providing necessary transportation,” President Begaye said. “For the federal court to base its decision on a misleading carryover fund argument and a promise of funding yet to be seen is wrong. This decision was unfair and misleading.”

President Begaye said the Nation will continue to fight for full funding of the Navajo Head Start because the program is essential to the cognitive development of children.

“To ensure the continuation of program operations, as the federal government has failed to allocate the full $23 million that is needed, I will approve an emergency allocation to Navajo Head Start for $6.3 million,” he said. “I will not allow a lapse in service for our children, and I intend to hold the federal government accountable to the Navajo Nation.”

 

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