Judy Dewerff is Head Start Director for the Illinois Valley Economic Corporation which serves Greene, Macoupin, Jersey and Calhoun Counties. She says the organization’s next fiscal year begins July 1st. That’s when sequestration would shave about 5 percent from the Head Start budget.
Dewerff says Head Start programs have been working on lean budgets for several years.
“This 5 percent cut is not something that can be absorbed in regular head start budgets," says Dewerff. "It's going to mean having to cut services to children and families. Probably serve fewer families and that also impacts on the staff who are hired to work with those children. That's not going to help our unemployment rate as staff lose their jobs. Some of those children may not be able to be served because of those cuts."
Head Start programs serve children ages 3 through 5. Families living at or below poverty receive the service for free.
Beverly Gibson with the Springfield Urban League, which operates Urban League Head Start at 3001 West Lafayette, says the organization’s next fiscal year begins August 1st.
“We’re certainly hopeful that no cuts are required, however, if, in fact, they are we are preparing to make those adjustments," says Gibson. "However, we do have to await notification from the federal government because it would determine which line items are impacted."
Four Rivers Special Education District Director Gina Eckhouse says many of its Early Childhood programs will be affected unless sequestration is repealed. She says a $200,000 budget cut is expected. Eckhouse says the district will probably dip into savings to compensate for the cuts rather than push the costs to its 19 member school districts.
As for when lawmakers may try to repeal parts of sequestration, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin says it could come this month when talks begin over the continuing resolution, which funds government in lieu of a budget. It expires at the end of this month. Durbin says talks of changing sequestration may come up at that time.