Cincinnati's Head Start program hurt by sequestration cuts

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CINCINNATI - The effects of federal budget cuts are looming for several Head Start centers in the Tri-State, which will include the displacement of students and staff layoffs.

The Cincinnati Head Start program lost $1 million in federal funding Thursday as as a result of sequestration cuts. Head Start centers are mostly funded by federal money, which means the cuts will affect more than 200 local families who will either be dropped or denied from the program.

Head Start preschool programs are available for children who are 3-5 years old. They also provide pregnant women and children with additional services, including families who are homeless.

"Look at the children. They can't vote. We're gonna have to stand up for them. We have no better choice but to stand up," said Gwen Robinson, president of the Cincinnati Head Start program.

Robinson was joined by many passionate parents who said the Head Start program has been essential for their child's development.

"I am very grateful for the Head Start program. I have a 9-year-old to provide for and this program has helped me as that and help me continue my education," said parent Sharon Ford.

As a result of the budget cuts, at least 10 classrooms in the Tri-State will be eliminated and 20 staff members will lose their jobs.

"Many parents will have to make a decision based on theses cuts of choosing between low-quality care and high-quality care," said single parent Anita Wolfe.

Wolfe said she shouldn't have to make the decision.

"Politicians need to understand that there's a human element and parents are real people with real children," said Wolfe.

The Cincinnati Hamilton County Community Action Agency said the cuts will mean limitations within the programs including food.

Officials with CHCCAA also said it is not clear when the layoffs and student displacements will take place at this time.

For more information on Head Start programs in Cincinnati visit http://headstartprograms.org/detail/cincinnati_public_schools_head_cincinnati_oh.html.

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