Head Start providers fear significant budget cuts - KCTV5

Head Start providers fear significant budget cuts

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As Congress and President Barack Obama grapple with the budget and spending cuts, some agencies are bracing for the proverbial financial shoe to drop.

Mandatory federal funding cuts are looming.

Head Start supporters say 200,000 children could lose Head Start services under the most dire predictions. The cuts could affect 1,800 Missouri children and 757 Kansas children.

The program provides early education and serves mostly underprivileged families.

"That's going to be devastating and right now it's scary. It's important for people to know who this affects - our most vulnerable citizens," Erin Brower with Partnership for Children said.

Brower advocates for Missouri's youngest. She says Early Head Start could take the biggest hit in upcoming federal cuts.

"It means slots. So with that money we have to cut slots and that's children that are where? Are they at home? Are they at an unsafe site?" said Britney Snodgrass, a health manger for Early Head Start.

The program provides families with support for babies from birth to 3 years old when they can transition to regular Head Start.

Early Head Start helps families understand the importance of health screenings, nutrition and provides childcare for working parents.

"The whole reason why we had Head Start is so our families can work and so who is going to watch their kids during the day while they're working three jobs?" Snodgrass said.

Budget cuts could lead to nearly $11 million in federal funding for Missouri alone, which would affect 364 jobs. In Kansas, the cuts could be as much as $4.7 million and 158 fewer jobs.

Last year, state legislators cut $3 million from the Head Start budget. Brower says PFC is fighting to convince lawmakers for that money back.

"Every dollar we invest in Early Head Start reaps a rate of return for Missouri of $7 to $9. It's the best investment," Brower explained.

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