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April 11
Heads Up for Head Start

Head start.jpg

Head Start, a federally-funded program that works to enhance the education of young children from low-income families, faces additional setbacks as a direct result of the sequestration.  The program, which serves over 30 million children nationwide, expects grant reductions of 5 percent and predicts the need to drop 70,000 children from its programs across the country.  The March 1st Office of Head Start notice, which encourages programs to uphold and ensure quality of service for enrolled children, also states the need to strategize quickly and expect challenges.

Programs across all 50 states are scrambling to accommodate the budget cuts (an expected loss of approximately $398 million) and are working hard to implement cost-saving measures.  In Indiana, 36 children — chosen randomly, from a lottery drawing — were forced to de-enroll from their program last month.  In Arkansas, the Fayetteville Head Start program in Washington County decided to close down for the summer 13 days early.  In Texas, nine communities across the state will lose program classrooms at the end of this school year.  
The cuts are being lamented by advocates for preschool preparedness because of the program’s long-lasting impact for students.  Numerous studies link participation with higher test scores, a higher likelihood of finishing high school, and even health benefits, as well as increased parent involvement.  
This is only one example of how programs, locally and nationally, are affected by sequestration.  The field of early childhood education now faces additional funding obstacles, and will have to work with limited resources to continue to perform effectively.


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