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Head Starts In Maryland At Risk
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March 21, 2013
Baltimore city’s Head Start program stands to lose more than $1.5 million in federal funding if sequestration cuts remain in effect. That translates into 200 fewer Head Start slots for children. In this report, WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn talks to parents and officials about the looming cuts for Head Start, a program created in 1965 to assist impoverished families.
Children: 7, 8, 9, 10, uno, dos, tres…
Gwendolyn Glenn: These three- and four-year-olds attend the Emily Price Jones Head Start program on Eldorado Avenue in Baltimore City. They are finishing up their day with a snack just before their parents pick them up.
Parents: Ok, bye bye…
Glenn: Trisha McIntosh is here to collect her twins. She says in addition to the learning activities Head Start offers, it helps her save on daycare costs.
Trisha McIntosh: I’m a hair stylist, so before they came here, I was kind of bringing them to work, finding people here and there. It’s pretty difficult. So it would be a very big deal for me if, if the program was cut because it would affect me financially because I wouldn’t be able to work as much because I really don’t want to have them at work with me all the time.
Glenn: There are more than 3,400 economically disadvantaged children enrolled in Head Start programs in the city. The Emily Price Jones Head Start program has six sites here and serves nearly 340 children. It is run by the Y of Central Maryland, which also operates Head Start programs for 630 children in Baltimore County. Chris Ader Soto, the Y’s senior vice president for youth development says they receive a total of $6 million from the federal government for their City and County Head Start sites. She is concerned about the effect sequestration would have on these programs next fiscal year.
Chris Ader Soto: We are anticipating that the reduction to our contract with Baltimore City would be about $125 thousand. We haven’t yet begun to figure out how we’re going to make up that difference.
Glenn: Roikensha Craig, Emily Price Jones Head Start’s program director, says the sequestration cuts could mean losing 19 slots for children.
Roikensha Craig: We want to make sure that we go through this in a way where we minimize disrupting services for our children. So we would have to look at, you know, other alternatives, going back to landlords, you know, asking for a reduction, you know, in our lease agreements, you know, maintenance, so that we wouldn’t have to cut services to children and families.
Glenn: Soto says budget cuts to the Y’s Head Start programs in the city will not take effect until July 1. But the county’s reductions will kick in sooner because their fiscal year starts April 1.
Soto: Their new grant will include a reduction of $278 thousand. We’re committed to not reducing any services to children over the course of this school year but we will need to make serious reductions to provide for that cut in funding.
Senator Ben Cardin: …’cause what do you do?
Glenn: Last week, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland visited St. Jerome’s Head Start on Sterrett Street. He praised the program for its long term effects.
Cardin: Children who benefit from Head Start are much more likely to succeed. They’re much more likely to graduate from high school, they’re much more likely to go to college, they’re going to make more money and they’re going to pay more taxes and they are going to help our economy. Those who do not, are much more at risk, so Head Start is a great investment for our nation and it is at risk.
Glenn: Statewide 900 children could be locked out of the program under sequestration. Head Start officials say that would be devastating to the underprivileged families they serve and those on the program’s growing waiting list. I’m Gwendolyn Glenn reporting in Baltimore for 88 1, WYPR.
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