Early Education advocates celebrate budget restoration

Friends at the RurAL CAP Child Development Center in Anchorage pose in the play yard. photo by RuralCAP

by RurAL CAP Staff

Following Governor Dunleavy’s early education funding restoration announcement, Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc. (RurAL CAP) celebrates the success of advocacy efforts and promotes the preservation of existing funding allocations for the continuity of children and families’ services statewide.

“We are thrilled at the restoration of both Head Start and Parents as Teachers [PAT] funding,” said Kristin Ramstad, RurAL CAP Child Development Division Director, “and are eager to work with DEED [Alaska Department of Education and Early Development], our partners, and each community to meet the unique needs of our kiddos and their families.”

Although the funding has been restored at the state level, allocation decisions determined by DEED are still pending. In the event that RurAL CAP’s allocation is reduced, Chief Executive Officer Patrick M. Anderson said RurAL CAP Head Start classrooms in 10 communities throughout Alaska remain at risk for closure or service reduction.

If funding is restored to last year’s allocation amount, RurAL CAP would maintain their $2,751,143 in state Head Start and PAT home visiting funding, leveraged with federal funding to serve 24 communities across the state.

“We are impressed with the statewide advocacy for vulnerable youth and embrace the restored funds for this year,” Anderson said. “Our focus has now shifted from early education advocacy to strategic innovation to maintain services in the communities we serve.”

RurAL CAP Head Start and Parents as Teachers employees have been asked to return to work at the beginning of the school year, Aug. 22, pending DEED’s funding allocation announcement. DEED has scheduled a meeting with partners for Monday, Aug. 19, to discuss Head Start funding allocations.

If funding allocation is reduced, the 10 communities that remain at risk for closure or loss of services include Anchorage, Chevak, Homer, Hooper Bay, Kake, Ketchikan, Kluti Kaah, Kodiak, Sterling, and Tok.

Governed by a 24-member Board of Directors representing the public sector, the private sector, and the different regions of rural Alaska, RurAL CAP is a private, statewide, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. With a mission to empower low-income Alaskans through advocacy, education, affordable housing and direct services that respect Alaskan’s unique values and cultures, RurAL CAP collaborates with community partners to ensure that all Alaskans have access to the vital services needed to promote the vision of Healthy People, Sustainable Communities, Vibrant Cultures.