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Head Start Programs Try To Deal With Sequester Cuts

Students pose for a picture at a Head Start program run by the  Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency. (CHC Community Action Agency)

Students pose for a picture at a Head Start program run by the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency. (CHC Community Action Agency)

Up to 70,000 children could lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start programs as a result of the federal budget cuts known as the sequester, according to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Local programs are trying to compensate for the cuts by trimming other areas of their budgets, in an attempt to keep the Head Start slots in the program open for children.

The government program that provides Pre-K and other services to low income families will lose $422 million.

Head Start did receive a big boost to its budget from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — better known as the stimulus — but it also got a huge bump in it’s enrollment.

Verline Dotson, director of Head Start programs for Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency, told Here & Now that the cuts mean she will have to deny 180 children access to the program this fall.

The cuts also mean a reduction in transportation and health services.

“We will pay now or we will pay later,” Dotson said. “There’s no economic recovery strategy stronger than the commitment to early childhood and K-12 investment. Pre-school education, early education — particularly for low income children and families — does combat crime, teen pregnancy and high school drop outs.”

Guest

  • Verline Dotson, director of Head Start programs for Cincinnati Hamilton County Community Action Agency.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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