The agency worked out a deal Thursday afternoon to make sure meals for the kids are still paid for, but if the shutdown continues through October the pre-school program will be forced to close its doors.
Head start classrooms help kids well below the poverty line prepare for the first day of school.
"These are the poorest of the poor children," says Brenda Zedlitz, Washington County EOA's Director of Children's Services. "There is a 30 million word gap between children of middle-class, middle-income, and children who live at the poverty level... If they do not make that up before Kindergarten they're not going to be able to start Kindergarten on the same footing as their peers."
Zedlitz says an uneven start causes more problems than forgetting your ABCs.
"You're talking about a significant impact, to not just today," she says. "That's going to follow them through the rest of their academic career and their life."
The program found funding for food, but the timing of this shutdown is particularly bad for Head Start, because it's about to start a new fiscal year.
"If congress does not do something and if the government does not open back up we will have to shut our doors on November 1, because not only will we not have money to operate with, but we also will not be authorized to operate as a head start program," she says. "Your funding award is also your authorization."
Zedlitz says it's time for the men and women of Congress to stop arguing and work together, before political posturing takes a toll on these kids that will last far longer than the shutdown itself.
"I'm very passionate about that because I see how it affects our children," she says. "When you work with children and families, that's important, what you do today, because you're going to see it long term. It's going to come up long term, and these children deserve the very best, just like all the children before them."
The program serves 315 kids in Washington County, and in addition to the education, Head Start provides two meals a day and the director says for many of these children that's the only food they eat.