Head Start facing loss of tenth of its funding
Director Suey Linzmeier said that could ultimately mean cutting services to 41 preschoolers and their families.
But she said, “We aren’t going to cut any kids right now, this spring.” If cuts have to be made, she said, they will be made at the start of the new school year in the fall.
“We don’t want to cut kids at all,” Linzmeier said. “That would be terrible,” she said, particularly at a time when “there are so many on the waiting list.”
When Congress failed to reach fiscal agreement with the president by Friday, March 1, it triggered deep, across-the-board cuts. Head Start is just one of many programs and services destined to feel the effects of the partisan stalemate in Washington.
“It was not a good day Friday,” Linzmeier said. “We don’t want to change our program.
“We do so many things so well. Any compromise would make us less effective.”
Head Start’s fiscal year runs Nov. 1 to Oct. 31, so money will have to be taken from the current budget if the opposing parties can’t find a way out of the current gridlock.
“We may have to cut days or start late,” Linzmeier said. She said staff may have to be laid off this summer as well.
Some other Head Start programs are considering trimming transportation or meal support, but she said those aren’t good options.
“How would kids get to school?” she asked. “How would they be sure of at least one good, nutritious meal every day?”
Linzmeier termed it ironic that the forced cuts are coming at the same time President Obama is calling for an increased commitment to early childhood education. He emphasized the importance of early childhood in his State of the Union address, she noted.
“This is the first time ever the president has spoken about it — about brain development and doing things for children at an earlier age,” she said. “But if we cut 41 kids, what are those 41 kids going to do?”