Head Start programs could suffer after automatic budget cuts

Published: Feb. 28, 2013 at 11:29 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2013 at 12:13 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The federal budget cuts that could come under the government's sequester could hit working families hard, especially those who rely on free head start for pre-kindergarten students.

If a deal isn't met in Washington Friday, March 1st, many programs will see budget cuts over the next 7 months. Head Start services across the state could be hit hard.

Lucretia Carter, Principal at Westview Primary School said, "It helps them get ready for that formal academic learning process that's going to start in kindergarten and 1st grade. They're learning to count. They're learning to recognize numbers. They're learning to recognize letters and leaning quantity."

About 900 children in South Carolina will not get that opportunity if cuts go through.

"They could miss out on stability, quality learning environments, literacy, activities, nurturing in early head start and responsive care," said Dr. Lerah Smith Lee, Executive Director of Early Learning for Charleston County School District.

The head start budget of the state could be slashed by 4.8 million dollars by the end the year.

Leaders of head start said their services involve more than just classroom instruction; they reach out to parents and find ways to help entire families.

"Children, especially those children in poverty need stable learning environments in which they could learn and grow. Equally, children need that support and stability with families," said Dr. Lee.

Sequester cuts will hurt middle class and lower income families. In Berkeley County title one schools, special needs and head start programs are all at risk

Carter said, "Sometimes your lower income families don't have all of the materials at home. They may not have books at home. They don't have all the exposure that other children from those middle and upper economic levels have."

Come tomorrow, some parents may soon have to find other options for their toddler's education and family services.

Charleston County head start plans to talk with the National Head Start Association Friday to plan ahead. Their counterparts in Berkeley and Dorchester counties will have those discussions next week.

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