Culpeper Star-Exponent: Culpeper Head Start to get $4.1M to help more kids, congresswoman announces

CULPEPER STAR-EXPONENT

Culpeper Human Services will receive $4.15 million from the U.S. government to help expand the county’s Head Start educational program for young children.

The money will go toward improving the Galbreath-Marshall Building in town so it can care for more children—from infants to 3-year-olds—from lower-income families. A new kitchen and more parking will be added, the Star-Exponent reported last fall. Caring for more children will require another $750,000 in annual operating costs.

Keeping Head Start in one place, at its existing facility, will consolidate operating costs and be easier to accomplish, Culpeper Human Services Chairman John Cerio told the Board of Supervisors then. Other sites elsewhere in the county were considered, but the supervisors voted unanimously in September to authorize Human Services to seek the grant for the Galbreath-Marshall Building.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who represents Central Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, announced the federal grant late Tuesday.

“I’ve personally had the opportunity to visit Culpeper Head Start, and I’ve seen firsthand the fervent dedication of local Head Start administrators and educators to the well-being of Culpeper kids and families,” Spanberger said in a statement. “They deserve our strongest support.”

The congresswoman spent a morning talking with children and visiting classrooms and other facilities Culpeper Head Start and Kid Central in October 2019.

Afterward, she said Culpeper’s effort proves the value of Head Start programs to their communities.

Culpeper Head Start has helped working parents, opened fields for intramural sports, renovated an old school, and improved a neighborhood, the lawmaker noted.

In 2015, a federal grant enabled Culpeper County to refurbish the Galbreath Marshall Building on Old Fredericksburg Road and build a 5,000-square-foot addition that includes a dental clinic, a training room and an elevator that meets Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The changes allowed Culpeper Head Start to accommodate more than 100 infants and toddlers.

Late last year, the county’s child-care program was named the 2020 Large Business of the Year, an honor bestowed by the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce.

Spanberger, a Democrat, said Tuesday that the commonwealth’s “long-term economic success depends on the health, safety, and education outcomes of the next generation of Virginians.”

She thanked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for being committed to Virginia’s children and expanding education opportunities during their crucial early years.

“Head Start has a demonstrated record of improving outcomes for children and families across our communities, and this award positions it for continued success here in Virginia,” Spanberger said.

The Culpeper grant for local Head Start programs is for $4,158,152.

According to budget proposals, Culpeper’s Head Start programs are expected to cost $2.3 million to operate in the coming 2021-22 fiscal year.

Since arriving in the House of Representatives in January 2019, Spanberger has worked to build support for Head Start programs in Central Virginia and the nation.

In February, she reintroduced her bipartisan legislation—H.R. 1108—which would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to let Head Start programs receive federal work-study dollars and give college students additional opportunities to gain experience in the field of early childhood education.

The legislation grew from her interest in how college students can graduate with less debt and get a jumpstart on their careers, Spanberger said when she introduced the bill in the last session of Congress. The Head Start measure would provide better opportunities for children early in life, reduce college students’ debt, and strengthen the qualifications of the nation’s teachers.

In 2020, Spanberger received the 2020 Head Start Pledge Award from the National Head Start Association. The association said she demonstrated being committed to helping fulfill Head Start’s pledge to serve children and families in Central Virginia.

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