Shutdown not affecting some local agencies, so far

HOUGHTON – The partial shutdown of the federal government is impacting local programs around the country, but so far BHK Child Development Board is unaffected, according to Chip Law.

BHK is the Head Start administrator for the Copper Country, and Law, who is BHK executive director, said the shutdown won’t affect the agency’s operation because its funding has been appropriated through 2014.

BHK provides programs for children from birth to 5 years old.

Funding for Head Start comes from the federal Health and Human Services department, Law said. The United States Department of Agriculture also provides some funding.

“They do a lot of reimbursement of all the meals for the kids,” he said.

Most of the other funding for programs at BHK comes from Michigan state agencies or departments, Law said, and much of that money also comes from the federal government.

“It hasn’t been affected, thus far,” he said.

However, Law said if the members of Congress can’t do something about the looming debt ceiling issue, which is supposed to be resolved by the middle of October, there could be implications for BHK just as there would be throughout the country.

“I don’t know where that’s leading,” he said. “That’s another ball game.”

Law said BHK gets about $5 million a year from the federal government for Head Start, but for the current fiscal year, which starts Nov. 1, the money has already been appropriated.

“We’re in good shape for a year,” he said.

The HHS grants are for five years, Law said, and the current grant cycle is just finishing the first year. He isn’t certain if the money for the grant has to be appropriated each year, or if all five years worth has been appropriated.

One way BHK may be affected, Law said, is if BHK staff needs information from staff at the various federal agencies with which BHK works.

“The people we rely on for expertise are furloughed,” he said.

However, Law said HHS has a very good Head Start website he can use if he has questions until the agency’s staff returns to work.

The shutdown has not had any affect on BHK staff, Law said, and their programs are operating. BHK offers classes for infant, toddlers and pre-school children at 15 locations around the Copper Country. Currently, there are 307 Head Start children and 151 Early Head Start children in classes.

“We have full enrollment,” he said.