LIMA — Forty-two fewer children will be able to enroll in Head Start next fall, and four staff members will lose their jobs as Lima Allen Council on Community Affairs tries to absorb $190,000 in cuts because of sequestration.
Other changes are coming to Head Start as a result of the automatic federal budget cuts amounting to $85 billion nationwide.
“While many funding sources are still trying to figure this out, the impact for LACCA’s Head Start program is clear,” said Jackie Fox, LACCA chief executive officer. “Like all federal programs, Head Start is facing a 5.3 percent funding cut and must implement this cut prior to Oct. 30.”
The annual budget cut has to be absorbed in a six-month period, which will increase the negative impacts to families and staff. Nationally, officials estimate 70,000 Head Start children will be impacted.
Head Start has 422 children ages 3 to 5, along with 130 early Head Start children ages 2 and younger. The early Head Start program runs 12 months, as opposed to a typical school year for the older children
When staff and children return to the program in the fall, there will be 42 fewer children enrolled and four staff will lose their jobs. Holly Rex, chief operating officer, said the change will impact lower-income families typically served by Head Start.
“It is sad we have to go through this process when this is the group of programs that need to be available in a better way,” Rex said. “Just saying that we are going to cut the budget at 5 percent, I don’t know that the government fully understands when they make those statements what that means. It is a $190,000 hit for our agency that we have to absorb over these next six months.”
Head Start also will close its doors a week earlier this school year, on May 10. The Early Head Start program no longer will operate over the summer.
Specifically, the site at Lima Senior High School and the home-based program will not be available. It will impact 86 children and staff and two managers. Typically, the children at the high school belong to teenage mothers.
“If teen moms have jobs, and they were hoping that children would continue over the summer, they are going to have to make some different changes for themselves,” Rex said.
The plan still needs to be approved by the federal government, and officials worry that it could take a while. Rex said the agency cannot implement the plan until it is approved.
“The longer it waits, the less amount of money we are going to gain by trying to do it within the six months,” she said, adding that if it takes several months, Head Start may have to adjust in order to get to the $190,000 in the six months.
Information on the changes is available at www.lacca.com and on the agency’s Facebook page.