Automatic Budget Cuts Could Affect Head Start This January
On January 1, a series of federal spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect across the board. Education, transportation, public health, energy, and defense will all receive cuts in funding. For Head Start, that number is estimated to be $590 million, a 7.5% reduction from the $7.9 billion spent in 2012. The National Education Association estimates that 80,000 children could be forced out of the program. The National Head Start Association says that number could be as high as 200,000.
The good news is that the budget cuts are not guaranteed. Many Head Start advocates are hoping a deal can be reached before the automatic cuts go into effect. The National Head Start Association has begun a petition drive to remind legislators about the importance of Head Start to the country’s most vulnerable families. Local news agencies and bloggers all over the country are talking about the detrimental effects the cuts will have on the poor residents of their states.
Take a look at this video from the Center for American Progress called “Hanging in the Balance: A Head Start for Low-Income Kids”
Over the last few years, legislators on Capitol Hill, far removed from the struggles of poor families on a day to day basis, have hotly debated the value of Head Start. Those worrying about federal deficit spending have targeted the program numerous times over the past several years, saying that the program is too expensive and not effective. Those defending the program cite gains in literacy, health, and family involvement for children from low-income families.
In my opinion, there’s a reason the program continues to survive the chopping block. Its benefits just cannot be denied. As one of the country’s longest running anti-poverty programs, Head Start has provided 28 million children a chance at education for 47 years.
Certainly, the outcome of the election in only a couple weeks will set the tone for the upcoming negotiations on federal spending. In the meantime, The Gravely Group urges you to call your legislators and ask them to continue to support Head Start funding. And don’t forget Election Day is Tuesday, November 6th. No matter how you vote, remember that your vote is your voice.