WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said he will approve emergency legislation allocating $6.3 million to ensure Navajo Head Start operations continue.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Feb. 28 denied a preliminary injunction on behalf of Navajo Head Start that requested funding not be reduced from $23 million to $15.8 million.
The denial states the federal government will provide approximately $15.8 million because Navajo Head Start currently has carryover funds available.
For that reason, the federal court said the Navajo Nation was not facing immediate irreparable harm and ruled in favor of the National Head Start program, which is under the Department of Health and Human Services, denying approximately $7 million to the Navajo Nation.
The court stated that the reduced $15.8 million would be available Mar. 1.
“We have yet to receive any notice of any award from the federal government and I am disappointed in this decision,” Begaye said. “Because the federal government has chosen to not provide the necessary funds, the Nation was forced to introduce emergency legislation to keep our children and teachers in the classroom and our Head Start buses providing necessary transportation. For the federal court to base its decision on a misleading carryover fund argument and a promise of funding yet to be seen is wrong. This decision was unfair and misleading.”
Begaye said the Nation will continue to fight for full funding of the Navajo Head Start because the program is essential to the cognitive development of children.
“To ensure the continuation of program operations, as the federal government has failed to allocate the full $23 million that is needed, I will approve an emergency allocation to Navajo Head Start for $6.3 million,” he said. “I will not allow a lapse in service for our children, and I intend to hold the federal government accountable to the Navajo Nation.”