Sequester causing budget problems for Head Start program - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Sequester causing budget problems for Head Start program

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MADISON (WKOW) -- It's been more than three weeks since the sequester kicked in, causing cuts across the board to many federal programs. One of those agencies facing a five percent budget cut is the Head Start program.

This year, Head Start programs across the nation will see $400 million in cuts.

Dan Stickler, interim executive director of Wisconsin Head Start Association (WHSA) says here in Wisconsin, there are 62 Head Start programs that provide developmental and educational services to 16,000 children ages 4 and under and their families.

Stickler says up to 700 children and families in Wisconsin will lose access to Head Start services and up to 70,000 nationwide.

In Madison, Head Start is run by Dane County Parent Council (DCPC). The agency's board chairman Reg Emshoff anticipates their program will face a $450,000 cut in the next nine months. Their annual budget is $7 million, mostly coming from the federal government.

Emshoff says program directors may have to look to work with other organizations, like Big Brothers Big Sisters, to make ends meet.

"I think what we will see with continued budget restraint or cuts are organizations looking to provide the services, not duplicate services, and combine in different ways so that maybe the family and children still get the services, but it's done in a cost effective way," says Emshoff.

Dane County's Head Start program covers more than 900 kids in Dane and Green counties.

Emshoff says the most important goal is to make sure the children are still getting help, so to find room to keep the children they already serve, the board will look to supply costs, not filling staff vacancies, and possibly cutting staff before they'll even consider cutting spots for kids.

The board will meet Wednesday night to discuss their budget options. They're also still waiting to hear recommendations on ways to make cuts from the regional office in Chicago.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Head Start's board in MIlwaukee could lay off more than 150 people, which amounts to about half its employees.

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