Head Start Programs On Eastern Shore Feel Effects Of Sequester - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Head Start Programs On Eastern Shore Feel Effects Of Sequester

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WMDT 47 News - Monday, the Obama administration announced more than 57,000 children will be cut from Early Head Start and Head Start programs this fall because of the ongoing sequestration budget cuts.

This is a huge blow for families who depend on programs like this to help provide care for their kids. The program serves more than one million children every year in the U.S. It helps prepare kids for elementary school and also provides them with meals and healthcare.

The average cost of center-based daycare in the U.S. is $11,666 per year according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. Which is why government assistance programs like Early Head Start and Head Start are critical for low-income families.

"It's not only child care, it's all the developmental things that we help the children with. We help children get ready for kindergarten. That's a huge thing," Planning Coordinator at Shore Up! Alicia Robinson said.

Not to mention, these programs work with low-income families comprehensively, such as helping them get food stamps and find housing. But this fall, all that's going to change for thousands of families across the country after automatic budget cuts have slashed over $400-million from the federal program's $8 billion budget.

"I wish there could be other ways where they could cut somewhere else instead of this. It's really going to hurt a lot of our low income families," Brenda White said.

Just on Eastern Shore of Maryland, a total of five classrooms were shut down in Crisfield, Salisbury, St. Clair and Berlin. That's 73 kids who have to go elsewhere. Twenty full-time staff positions were also cut along with two bus drivers and two corresponding bus aides.

"Of course we're always concerned about future cuts, with the economy being uncertain and legislation being uncertain. We hope we won't have to cut anymore, but if that happens, we'll have to deal with that," Robinson said.

The good thing is that a lot of the children who are already enrolled in the program won't necessarily be affected. Robinson says these cuts will primarily impact families who are applying for the first time and trying to get into the program. She says there is a wait list to get in, so the families on that list will have to go elsewhere.

In Accomack County, one classroom and four full-time staff positions were eliminated. In Kent County, two classrooms and eight staff positions are gone. In Sussex county, one Early Head Start program was transformed into a home-based program, and three full-time staff positions were cut.

When Congress returns after Labor Day, sequestration will be a top item on their agenda.

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