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Head Start Leaders Have High Hopes for New President and Congress, But Budget 'Double Whammy' Expected to Force Cuts of Up to 14,000 Child Slots Nationwide
Date:6/19/2008

s and the President to please allow the program to maintain this quality by providing adequate funding."

Dr. Mary Ellen Caron, commissioner, Chicago Department of Children and Youth Services, said: "We ask federal lawmakers to provide us with the increased Head Start appropriation authorized in the new Act, so we are able to provide our disadvantaged children with the developmental and educational programs and services they so desperately need."

Unfortunately, Head Start programs currently are able to serve less than 40 percent of eligible children, down from about 60 percent at the beginning of the Bush Administration. Early Head Start programs (those serving children under age three) now serve less than 2 percent of eligible children.

Hundreds of Head Start programs across the United States had no choice in 2006 and 2007 but to scale back days and hours of operations, bus service, support staff, and other critical services and manpower. Many Head Start programs have even had to eliminate health insurance coverage for their teachers and staff. With cash-strapped Head Start programs already having slashed operations to the bone (and beyond in some cases), the FY 2008 funding cut means that Head Start programs have experienced a real decline in federal support of 11 percent since FY 2002 (inflation-adjusted). If federal support for Head Start had kept pace with inflation over this period, it would have risen from $6.54 billion in FY 2002 to $7.77 billion in FY 2008.

On March 19, 2008, NHSA reported that underfunded and overburdened Head Start programs across America are in crisis today, with more than three out of four (77 percent) reporting that they are "at or near the breaking point" and unable to absorb the FY 2008 budget cut and the cost of the hundreds of new unfunded mandates imposed in the 2007 Head Start Reauthorization Act.

For more information, see the March 13, 2008 NHSA news release

SOURCE National Head Start Association, Alexandria, VA; East SideHouse
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