Whoops! “Free” Community Head Start Program Has Been Charging

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I love free things, unless you have to pay for them, like that “free” cruise a telemarketer offered me once — all it would have cost was $180 plus a round-trip flight to Florida. Or that “free,” state-funded Head Start program that costs $75 per week.

An audit found that the St. Paul Community Head Start program collected a total of nearly $27,000 from low-income families for preschool camps that were meant to be free.

Unsurprisingly, the city immediately severed ties with St. Paul. But, according to Rev. Gregory Perkins, the city bears much of the responsibility, or maybe even all of it. Perkins told The Baltimore Sun that nothing St. Paul did was “outside of [the city’s] knowledge.” In fact, he claims the idea to charge parents for the free camp came from the Head Start adminstrative office. “Not only did they suggest it, but they approved our request to do it,” Perkins said.

But more outrageous than the fees charged (which came about because state funding didn’t cover expenses) is that the program maintained a staff that was twice as large as needed for the number of campers, another point that Perkins says the city was well aware of.

Wait a second — would state funds have been enough to cover the program if it only took on the appropriate amount of staff? Hmmm.

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