News and Tribune

Floyd County

April 22, 2013

Head Start facing cuts

Sequester cuts means summer program likely to end June 30

JEFFERSONVILLE —

The federal sequestration will slash classes and programs designed for impoverished and working-class residents and children in Southern Indiana unless Congress approves a budget soon. 

Officials with Community Action of Southern Indiana confirmed that among the cuts the organization is facing, it will likely have to end its summer Head Start program effective June 30. 

The classes are for children ages 3 to 5, and parents who are attending school or working during the day can enroll their kids in the Head Start summer program. 

Around 90 kids could be affected by the elimination of the program, and Head Start Director Joy Shanks said there’s consistently a waiting list for the summer classes. 

CASI’s Head Start program — which serves families in Charlestown, Sellersburg, Jeffersonville and Underwood — will lose about $140,000 in funding due to the sequester. 

Though she doesn’t anticipate services will have to be cut in the program, Shanks said the remaining $33,000 in reductions will come from Early Head Start. 

The federal reduction in funding will lead to a 5 percent cut in the CASI Head Start budget, but Shanks said the amount is significant. 

“We have children on the waiting list, and we try to serve as many children as we can, and we have qualified teachers that have their degrees,” she said. “So you know, we really need to stay fully funded, not just for the teachers but for the children and the families, because that’s why we’re here, to give them services.”

Head Start — which launched in 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty — garnered about $7.9 billion in federal funding last year. 

Head Start grants across the country were reduced by 5 percent beginning on March 1, which was when the sequester started. 

Overall, the sequestration budget is expected to cut $1 trillion from federal spending. 

Barbara Anderson, the executive director of Haven House Services Inc., and a CASI board member, fears the sequester cuts will result in more homeless people needing shelter at Haven House because of reductions in public housing funding. 

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