Monroe County Head Start to Cut Student Slots, Employees

Monroe County’s Head Start program is making cuts to its staff and to the number of spaces available to children starting immediately.

The South Central Community Action Program must cut 5.1 percent of its Head Start budget, which amounts to more than $150,000 in cuts, because of funding constraints stemming from the federal sequestration.

The SCCAP Board of Directors and Head Start Parent Council voted Monday night to cut 12 Head Start slots for children ages three to five and 25 home-based slots for children up to age three.  Fifteen employees will also be let go.

Other cuts include the closure of the Head Start classroom at Lakeview Elementary and the suspension of Head Start transportation services at the end of this school year. Attendance for 2013 summer classes will also be slashed by 67 percent, keeping over 70 children at home during the summer months.

SCCAP Executive Director Todd Lare says parents will be forced to seek alternative sources of child care, and for more time each year.

“We’re also ending the school year early by a month,” he says. “So parents that were intending to have child care taken care of for another month are not going to have that.”

Tiffany Bengtson is one of the luckier parents. Her daughter Emma will be old enough to go to kindergarten. But she knows several parents whose children will be affected. For them, the future is less certain.

“As far as knowing what they’re going to do,” Bengtson says. “I don’t know. And its…I don’t even know if they know at this point since the cuts just came. But hopefully they’ll be able to find something. I hope.”

While the Head Start budget rollbacks in Marion County have been decided, they still have to be approved by the Head Start Regional Office in Chicago before going into effect.

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