San Angelo, TX - The Early Childhood Center in San Angelo has existed since the 1900s when it was founded to provide childcare for families where both parents, or the sole parent, needed to be active in the workforce.
Since that time, working on a sliding fee scale, the center has been able to provide childcare at an average of half what most centers charge. The center offers all day care, and that includes serving lunch.
"Over 77% of our children qualify for free and reduced lunch and so we participate in the federal governments meal program," explained the centers executive director, Cynthia Lackey.
"Our program is called the 'Child in Adult Care' food program.They reimburse us monthly for the meals that we serve to our children; we serve breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack."
Not only that, but the center is committed to providing nutritious, quality meals to the children in their care. Now that meal program, and by extension other elements of the centers budget, are in jeopardy due to the ongoing federal shutdown.
"The Child in Adult Care food program is a federal program and then it flows down to the state department of agriculture," said Lackey. "And, they have not spent all of their funding for the previous fiscal year.
So, it's what is called 'carry-over' funding and they have enough carry-over funding to get us through to March."
Currently, 20% of the Early Childhood Center budget is for their food program, with nearly 70% for staffing.
That leaves just a fractional ammount for everything else. If the shutdown continues beyond March, and the center has to start cutting into other parts of their budget, it is unclear how long they're going to be able to provide the same quality of meals for the children.
Not only that, but the center may face reductions in staffing as well in order to cut costs.
With what is already the longest federal shutdown in our nations history continuing to drag on, the local impacts are starting to add up.