Head Start families, employees on tenterhooks

RurAL CAPThe federal budget cuts known as sequestration might be ho-hum to some Alaskans, but families who use Head Start and Early Head Start are anxiously waiting to learn how the cuts will affect them.

  • Kids’ Corps, which runs five Head Start centers in Anchorage, has announced its South Anchorage center will close because of sequestration. The center has provided full-day, year-round Head Start services for 20 lower-income, working families since 2001, and those slots will be lost. The closure will eliminate five full time jobs.
  • RurAL CAP operates 25 local Head Start programs around the state. “Certain programs will be closing a center or classroom, or pulling out of a local community,” RurAL CAP’s Debi Baldwin said. “For example, at RurAL CAP, we are projected to close two home-based programs in rural Alaska, eliminate one classroom in a rural community, and shorten the program year and staff work time.”

It isn’t clear yet how other Head Start grantees will manage the cuts, but more will become clear in the next few months, according to Mark Lackey, of the Alaska Head Start Association (AHSA). Several months ago, AHSA predicted shorter school years, staff cuts of 22 to 27 employees, and that 120 to 140 children would lose Head Start services. Some communities may lose Head Start services altogether, while others will be forced to cut their budgets for facilities, supplies, maintenance, and transportation. (See infographic here.) AHSA’s Lackey said he expects the actual impacts to be worse.

How you can help:  The next opportunity to reverse the cuts is in the FY14 budget which begins Oct. 1.

This article appeared in the May 2013 Best Beginnings E-newsletter. Please refer to our Content Reproduction Policy if you are interested in reproducing content provided on this website.