Cuts mean fewer spots for Hillsborough Head Start - WFLA News Channel 8

Cuts mean fewer spots for Hillsborough Head Start

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As school starts this week there are dozens of younger children who won't be in the classroom. Government budget cuts mean thousands of Head Start spots across the country are no more.

In Hillsborough County alone the federal sequester reduction resulted in about $1.4 million less. That translates into a total reduction in service to 114 children.

"When we've cut 114 spots, we're that much further away from providing early childhood education for each child in the county," said Erica D. Moore, the Interim Director for Head Start and Early Head Start in Hillsborough County.

Moore says the reduction would be like taking away five classrooms of 3 to 4-year-olds and four family children care homes for infants and toddlers.

"It's quite an impact," Moore said. "And we have a wait list of over 1,000 children in Hillsborough County waiting to get into Head Start."

The local Head Start isn't alone. The Administration for Children and Families reports that 51,299 fewer children will begin Head Start preschool programs nationwide and nearly 6,000 fewer toddlers will enter Early Head Start.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 nixed federal spending which resulted in $85 billion less in federal government spending.

Some Head Start programs across the country had to layoff staff. Moore says Hillsborough County managed to avoid that but staff members are still obviously feeling the cuts.

"When you lose 114 children you feel the impact," she said. "You feel the impact because there are centers that had to close and we certainly are a slightly smaller organization than we were last year."

It could wind up impacting families like Tiffany Godwin's. The mother of five works part-time at Busch Gardens and relies on assistance through local the local school readiness program for her four older children.

"Right now they're telling me there's a freeze," Godwin said. "They don't ... have funds to add my newborn baby."

So now she's attempting to get 3-month-old Noah into the Early Head Start program, which means she'll likely go on a waiting list now. Program waiting lists differ depending on the needs of family but Hillsborough staff members say some families could wait up to a year now.

"Hopefully their waiting list doesn't look too bad," Godwin said. "If not, I'll probably end up having to quit my job soon."

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