After Closure Threat, Navajo Nation Head Start Continues

November 08, 2011

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The federal government has decided to fully fund Head Start on the Navajo Nation after threatening to cut the tribe’s program in half.

Five years ago, federal officials shut down Navajo Head Start after they found broken windows, employees without background checks and other deficiencies. The tribe has struggled to meet standards and get enrollment numbers back up.

Because of these issues, the feds threatened to cut the program three months ago.

Navajo Head Start coordinator Dawn Yazzie said there's still a need. In fact, with almost half of the tribe unemployed, there are long waiting lists in some communities.

"There’s definitely a need, even a greater need now, for the Navajo Head Start services," Yazzie said.

President Ben Shelly said in a press release they have a lot of work to do to fix Head Start centers, get the enrollment numbers back up and maintain the $29 million of federal funding. That funding is dependent on the tribe meeting federal standards.