Shelby County Could Relinquish Control Of Head Start Program

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(Memphis) Shelby County soon no longer run the county’s Head Start program.

“I’m very committed to Head Start. I just think it can be done better and more efficiently outside the realm of county government,” explained Shelby County Mayor Mark Lutrell. “I am looking for somebody to enhance and expand this program to meet the needs. We know that Head Start makes a difference in the lives of the children it covers. We also know that it’s not covering enough children.”

Luttrell said the county does not plan on putting in application for the $23 million in federal funding needed to run the program.

The application process comes around every few years.

Luttrell said other entities are interested in running the program that serves nearly 3,200 children.

“I’ve reached out the school system. I’ve personal conversations with superintendent Hopson. We’ve reached out to Porter Leath. We’ve reached out to Mayor Herenton,” said Luttrell.

Several parents, staff and community members packed into a Shelby County commission committee meeting Wednesday to let county commission members know they want the county to maintain control.

“Please don’t let our children become test dummies to see if some other organization is going to work, when head start has effectively worked for over 40 years,” said parent Stephanie Love.

Despite the meeting before commission members, they will not have the final say.

“The applications all go into health and human services and the decision is made at the national level,” said Luttrell.

The applications are due in October.