Ore. services have money but bank closed

social services operator 211-koin 6 news 10213
A social services operator works Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, as questions ramp up from concerned families worried about their social service availability following Monday night's federal government shutdown. (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The U.S. government shutdown has a lot of Oregon families on edge. Many of them want to know if their family services are available.

In most cases, the answer is yes.

It’s these concerns that are keeping employees at the 2-1-1 Family Info Line busy.

“Programs that support childcare and support nutrition in families and children are essential,” said Reina Daniels, a 2-1-1 specialist. “It’s what the families rely on to keep their kids fed, housed, safe and happy.”

These family service programs help thousands of children in Oregon state.

WIC and Headstart alone serve nearly 200,000 people in Oregon. Program directors from both agencies told KOIN 6 News the shutdown will not affect the services, and said the agencies are fully funded for the rest of the month.

However, if the federal shutdown continues, WIC and Headstart reported it may be tough from these agencies to operate in November.

It is this issue that concerns parents like Diallo Keeton. He’s a single father who uses the WIC program to help pay for food.

“For young kids having to get the milk and all those things it’s really hard because they are very expensive,” Keeton said. “If the money is not there it’s going to be difficult for a lot of families.”

Director of the Albina Head Start program, Ron Herndon, agreed.

He has been working with the Headstart program since 1975. He described the situation as having money in the bank, but the bank being closed.

He said if Congress doesn’t make a decision soon, it’s going to leave a lot of families in danger.

“We’ve shared with our staff that this is the situation we are in,” Herndon said, “and we are going to do everything possible, that we can to make sure our doors remain open.”

Nationwide, the shutdown has forced 23 Headstart programs to close their doors. That adds up to more than 19,000 children.

To learn more about family services, you can call the Family Info Line at 2-1-1.

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