Head Start programs throughout the U.S. are facing setbacks due to the sequester. For example, the Washington County Head Start program will attempt to cut a required $150,000 from its operating budget by ending the program two weeks prior to the scheduled summer vacation. Officials estimate this cut will total 30,000 hours of services and 10,000 meals served to 381 families.
According to the Huffington Post, “In Indiana, local Head Start programs chose three-dozen preschool students at random to remove from its rolls. In Kentucky, Head Start officials are doing the same. In Illinois, a local Head Start program is prepared to drop kids in order to deal with a $72,000 shortfall. In Pennsylvania, officials are still plotting out how to cut $142,400 from their Head Start budget.”
Other Head Start offices are awaiting news from headquarters in Washington, D.C. For example, Head Start in Merced has been told to expect a 5% decrease in funding, which would total about $600,000.
Head Start is a federal program that promotes school readiness for children from the time they're born to age 5 from families that fall below the federal poverty level. It enhances their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Head Start serves primarily pre-school age children and their families. However, Early Head Start programs serve younger children as well.
The Office of Head Start (OHS), within the Administration of Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services, also awards grants to both private and public agencies on a competitive basis. Agencies awarded grants are required to provide services consistent with Head Start standards.
Having previously worked in a Head Start school, I feel their services are highly beneficial to low-income children during a critical stage of development and are overall positive contributions to communities throughout the U.S. I hate to see them experiencing setbacks.