About 57,000 poor children will lose access to federally-subsidized preschool because of across-the-board U.S. spending cuts this year, a smaller number than the Obama administration previously said might be affected.
The figures released today by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department are based on estimates from organizations that run the Head Start programs. The Obama administration warned earlier this year that automatic spending reductions that started in March might affect as many as 70,000 children.
The federal cutbacks this year eliminated about $400 million from Head Start, the deepest spending reduction since the program was created in 1965 under President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty to prepare impoverished children for school.
Head Start is one of dozens of programs affected by the spending cuts that were implemented this year after President Barack Obama and Congress failed to agree on how to reduce the deficit. The reductions were part of a 2011 agreement to raise the debt limit and were intended to be so unpalatable to both Republicans and Democrats that they would come up with a way to avoid it.