Head Start program would suffer with sequestration cuts

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 26 at 8:58 PM

For 40 years, the federal government has funded a preschool program for low income children. It's called Head Start.

About a million children, age three to five years old, attend Head Start programs. The program costs taxpayers about $8 billion.

Head Start is supposed to do what the name suggests, give children a head start.

One federal study suggested that many of the academic advantages of Head Start do not last beyond the early years of school, as students who did not attend Head Start catch up to those who did. But critics say the study was flawed.

Like many federal programs, Head Start is not exempt from sequester cuts.  In fact, if the sequester cuts come down, Head Start will get an across the board cut of 5.3 percent.

In Washington state, those cuts amount to about $9 million. That may not sound like much, according to Janice Deguchi, director of the Denise Louie Educational Center in Seattle's International District, but that means $130,000 to her location.

Deguchi says that so far Head Start's administrators in Washington DC have not given her any guidelines about how to make cuts, if in fact she has to.

She doesn't know if she will cut the number of children she serves or furlough staff or a combination of the two.
           
In any case, says Deguchi, her Head Start program runs a very lean operation.  She says volunteers contribute about $750,000 in addition to her roughly $3,000,000 budget and she doesn't think they can contribute even more to make up for any sequestration cuts.
           
Deguchi says she is hoping against hope that the cuts don't happen but is "Worried. Very worried. That we are actually going to have to make these cuts."

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