Head Start gets more than $1 billion in funding

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KANSAS CITY -- President Obama Wednesday announced new public and private investments totaling more than $1 billion for preschool programs in this country. At the YMCA's Early Education Center in Midtown, teachers say there are a lot of children who need their classes.

The Mid-America Regional Council tells FOX 4 News that only about 18 percent of children in the metro eligible for Head Start programs are enrolled in the early education classes.
There's more than 100 children waiting to get into the education program at the YMCA's Midtown Head Start center.

Nationally, less than a third of four-year-olds are enrolled in preschool programs that have been documented to help increase learning and earning potential later in life.

"I think there are a lot of programs that could expand," said Jim Caccamo, early education director for the Mid-America Regional Council. "The Kansas City Public School district has a lot of kids they are serving. There are 6,000 preschool kids in the school district boundaries. They are serving 2,000. The Hickman Mills school district, all local schools districts are serving young three and four-year-olds. So there is room for expansion in all of those programs."

The United States ranks 28th among industrialized nations in access to preschool for kids.
The President wants to spend $75 billion in federal money over 10 years to help states provide preschool for 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income households.
Private sector contributions to the effort include $55 million from the Walt Disney Company. Kansas City teachers say it would make a huge difference for young minds.