A Woman’s Place Is Not at Home: Cutting Head Start Hurts Women’s Progress

By Olivia Kittel
Elm Staff Writer

Recently, the Board of County Commissions for Frederick County, MD voted to completely cut their contribution to the Head Start Program. This means that the program will lose 50 percent of its funding, which is roughly 2 million dollars.

The Head Start Program provides child development services to low-income families. These services include preschool education, health and dental services, and social services that assist parents in accessing their community’s resources. This program has been especially helpful in allowing preschool education for children of economically disadvantaged families that need to place their children in daycare programs so they may work.

Commissioners Paul Smith and Kirby Delauter, both Republican, defended this decision with the logic that the program is unnecessary because “women should really be married and home with their kids.” The commissioners went even further than this. Paul Smith has said “the best long term way to help our children [is] as marriage is strengthened in our community.” Kirby Delauter furthered this by stating, “education of your kids starts at home… I never relied on anyone else to guarantee the education of my kids.”

The fact that anybody would even need to explain why this statement is astoundingly immoral is just pathetic in and of itself.

Let me begin by reminding everyone that we are currently living in the 21st century. World War I first made a place for women in the workplace and since then, they have actively been a part of the American work force since the 1920’s. Insisting that a woman’s place is at home, taking care of her children rather than working is an enormous step backwards from all of the progress women have made. It is also extremely ignorant and offensive to ignore and undermine all of the work that women have done to overcome such discrimination. It seems absurd to need to explain to an adult why women should have the same rights as men, and why not all women have to be married, or a mother. Isn’t this something everyone learns in elementary school?

Not all women have the luxury of staying home with their children. I’m sure plenty of women would love nothing more than this, but it is simply not an option for them. Many women need programs such as Head Start to educate and provide day care for their children so that they can work to feed and support their families. While many women work not only out of a necessity to support their families, but also by personal choice, just as many women work because it is essential to their families’ survival. Let’s consider a woman who is a single mother because she left an abusive husband, or any other situation that can be considered detrimental to her and her children. Should this mother be punished for placing her children in a day care or an educational program that allows her to work because she is now the sole provider for her family? My belief is absolutely not. We should be applauding women that support their families despite countless the countless obstacles that they must overcome, rather than discouraging them.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with placing your children in day care or programs to enhance their education. As a child of a single mother, I spent many years in before and after school care programs while she worked. In no way did this experience diminish my education or moral character. In fact it has done just the opposite. I believe this experience has made me more determined and diligent in my educational career. It also opened my eyes to the struggle that so many women endure and the countless obstacles women overcome in order to protect their families. Spending time in day care allowed me to see the importance of my mother’s career, the significance of women’s rights and their ability to be able to support their families themselves.

Cutting funding for a program that has helped and will continue to help countless families and single mothers is beyond cruel. It is truly ignorant and offensive that two state commissioners would suggest that a woman’s place is at home with her children.

Volume LXXXI Issue 16

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