Head Start Forced to Cut 57,000 Spots for Low-Income Kids

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The program that provides preschool education and health screenings for kids from low-income families has been affected by sequestration.

Congress’ inability to pass a deficit-reducing budget is now taking its toll on thousands of children from low-income families.

The phenomenon known as sequestration has forced cuts to the federal Head Start program, which provides 3- and 4-year-olds with medical and dental screenings, preschool and day care. Head Start will drop slots for an estimated 57,265 kids this fall, NPR says. (That number includes Early Head Start, a smaller, related program for children under age 3.) The program serves about 1 million kids each year.

It’s not just kids; jobs will be lost too. “At least 18,000 staff members will be affected, either through pay cuts or job losses,” CBS News says.

These cuts are unevenly distributed across states: You can see how many children will be affected where you live here. A total of 5,611 slots will be dropped in California, while Hawaii will lose only 72.

Some states will provide additional funding to lessen the blow. “The California legislature voted in June to increase funding for child care and early childhood education by $100 million while Ohio will boost early childhood spending by $30 million this fiscal year,” Stateline says. About 20 states already use their own funds to supplement federal Head Start money.

The sequestration budget cuts affect virtually every corner of federal government — except military pay and, as we’ve written, congressional pay. Here’s a small sample of stories about other government programs that have been affected by the cuts:

In late July, an NBC News poll found that 22 percent of Americans felt they have been significantly affected by the cuts. Among Americans making less than $30,000 a year, it was 31 percent. Has your family been affected? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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