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Clay day cares step up to help Head Start programs

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Updated: 10/13/2013 9:06 pm
ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- The ongoing government shutdown is now threatening child care. Head Start centers could be forced to close if the shutdown continues. Day care centers in Clay County are stepping up to help families.

In a little more than two weeks the funding to cover some Head Start programs including those in Clay County will run out.

"We are in the position right now to be able to reach out to the community. Again, kids should never have to suffer because of the actions of adults or the government," said Dews.

Jennifer Dews is the director of Advent Lutheran Pre-School. Dews' daycare is one of 12 centers stepping up to take in Head Start children for free if the government shutdown doesn't end soon.

"It's a blessing to not only these families but a blessing to us, the staff, the church, to be able to help out," said Dews.

It's also a blessing to parents like Kelcey Casey. Kelcey's children attend school at Advent, but she sympathizes with the parents who may have to fight the battle.

"When you're told your kids can't go to school, your kids not going to have a place go to school, if I could I would help them personally," said Casey.

Kelcey said she's glad the preschool will come to the rescue, if needed.

"Nothing but open arms here, they're so helpful. I think its great that they're reaching out to other parents," said Casey.

Dews said she'll do everything she can to help the families in need.

"They need the child care, they need to go to work, and the kids should be able to go to school," said Dews.

Connie Stopel, the CEO for the Head Start programs in parts of northeast Florida, said the money that was donated to help save the programs for the next couple of weeks, will run out on Oct. 31. Stopel said so far, the organization spent more than $270,000 out of its reserves to keep the centers open.
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