Head Start eliminated services to 57,000 children in U.S. as a result of sequester

By:  Michael Alison Chandler

The Washington Post

Head Start programs across the country eliminated services for 57,000 children in the coming school year to balance budgets diminished by the federal sequester, cutting 1.3 million days from Head Start center calendars and laying off or reducing pay for more than 18,000 employees, according to federal government data scheduled for release Monday.

The latest numbers, based on the results of “reduction plans” Head Start grantees submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services, fall short of earlier predictions by the Obama administration that 70,000 children would lose access to preschool because of the mandatory 5 percent cuts. But the cuts will still affect tens of thousands of poor families across the country who rely on Head Start for early learning programs, day care and a network of social services and medical care.

The initial administration projection was based on “a worst-case scenario” in which all reductions would focus on children’s access to Head Start, said a senior administration official who was unauthorized to publicly discuss the matter, because the information had not yet been released. In reality, grantees had some flexibility in how they cut their budgets as long as they maintained quality and prioritized children’s health and safety.

Some Head Start centers focused on cutting administrative and support services, such as transportation. Others chose to shorten the school year or the school day. The latest figures show that 18,000 program hours will be cut next year by centers that will start later in the day or end earlier.

Continue reading here.