Washington UPDATE: GOP Targets Head Start

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Washington UPDATE: GOP Targets Head Start.

Republican governors and members of Congress are working on a plan to turn the federal Head Start program over to the states as part of a large-scale block grant with few federal requirements.

Michigan Gov. John Engler (R) made the proposal in a meeting between GOP governors and lawmakers in Washington, DC. The plan would combine the $3.5 billion Head Start program for disadvantaged children with at least 10 other programs in a new child-care block grant for states.

The plan also would "freeze funds at the current level" from 1996 through the year 2000, said Stephanie Comai-Page, Engler's social welfare policy advisor.

Advocates for children vehemently opposed the move, saying it would destroy the character of the 30-year-old child development program.

"Block granting Head Start will destroy it," said Ron Herndon, president of the National Head Start Association. The program currently contains federal standards and passes money from Washington to local grantees with no state involvement. …