LIMA — Sixth Ward Councilman Derry Glenn is hoping some grassroots activism will help combat a result of automatic federal budget cuts.
Glenn wants people to sign a petition to urge the federal government to fully restore the Head Start program in Lima, he announced at a news conference Wednesday.
“Every dime that Head Start is getting now is needed,” Glenn said. “This is the worst thing to cut, when we’re dealing with our kids’ health, our kids’ education and services. These cuts will hurt. Some people are losing their jobs because of this.”
Glenn said he will walk door-to-door this weekend and next. He also plans to supply petitions to area churches and outside the Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center.
Glenn hopes to gather 3,000 signatures and said he will deliver copies of the petitions to Ohio Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati.
Head Start improves the health and school readiness of preschoolers in low-income families, Glenn said. And teachers in the program help parents with life and job skills.
In April, Lima Allen Council on Community Affairs announced it is losing $190,000 as a result of sequestration. The funding cut is resulting in four Head Start staff members losing their jobs and 42 fewer children able to enroll in Head Start in the fall, LACCA CEO Jackie Fox said in April.
Head Start also will close its doors a week earlier this school year, on Friday. 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 affect 86 children and staff and two managers. Typically, the children at the high school belong to teenage mothers.
Head Start is facing a 5.3 percent funding cut and must implement it by Oct. 30. The cut is part of automatic federal budget cuts totaling $85 billion.
Nationally, officials estimate 70,000 Head Start children will be impacted. In Allen County, 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.