Our Northwest

Low-income kids deprived of Head Start preschool

Thursday, July 21, 2016by  Jon Osterberg
Federal funding cuts have required a local agency to make tough choices, and as a result Bellevue's tuition-free Head Start preschool has left 151 kids in the lurch.
     Funding for Head Start in King and Pierce counties is distributed through the Puget Sound Educational Service District, which received a grant last month for less than the full amount. Bellevue's program lost funding in part because data shows northeast King County has the smallest percentage of kids under age 5 living in poverty.
     A July 21 Bellevue Reporter article quotes a parent, whose child attended Head Start preschool, lamenting the common misperception that "wealthy Bellevue" doesn't need social services.
     I can vouch for that need from personal experience. In 2008 I was asked to help form and lead a volunteer tutoring program, KidReach, at Jubilee REACH community center in Lake Hills. For the past eight years we've served kids in need from a surprisingly large segment of at-risk families on the Eastside. Most of the kids come from nearby Lake Hills Elementary, my own school long ago.
     In the 1960s, Lake Hills comprised nearly all middle-class white kids from Boeing families. Few were rich, but few were wanting.
     Today, 57% of the Lake Hills student body qualifies for free or subsidized lunches. Most of our KidReach students live in single-parent households, with many parents struggling to find employment and affordable housing.
     I know there's poverty in Bellevue, because I see it.
     Learn more about Bellevue's families in need in this Eastside Pathways article written by Interlake High senior Kate Chen.

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