Six days after budget cuts mandated by the federal sequester went into effect, details on how and when the cuts will affect Head Start programs in California are trickling in.
It’s not good news.
Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, director of the federal Office of Head Start, held a conference call for Head Start administrators on Friday, March 1, to help local programs begin planning for the 5.1 percent cuts that are going to affect all of the primary funding streams Head Start uses to keep its doors open. Sanchez Fuentes also verified that local programs would not be cut until their current fiscal year ends, and their funds are renewed. Head Start programs have varying grant renewal dates that can fall on the first of the month throughout the year.
Programs must operate with those reduced funding levels unless Congress takes action to undo the impact of the sequester, Sanchez Fuentes said in the call, according to Rick Mockler, head of the California Head Start Association, and a participant in the call. In the meantime, Mockler said, he sees no way to avoid local cuts that will shrink the number of children Head Start serves. Currently, 112,000 children attend Head Start programs in California, Mockler estimated that number may have to be reduced by as many as 6,000 as a result of the sequester.