Among the federal budget cuts ordered Friday as part of the so-called sequester was a $406 million cut to federal Head Start preschool program funding.
In Missouri, that means the likely loss of 1,200 Head Start slots. The bulk of them are in poor urban and rural areas where quality, affordable child care is hard to come by. The Head Start cut is in addition to a nearly 5 percent cut of $2.1 million to federal funding to support child care tuition subsidies for poor children across Missouri. It is estimated 700 children statewide will lose the subsidy.
The cuts have the potential to send borderline families into economic crisis, said Pat Holterman-Hommes, CEO of Youth in Need, a contractor for Head Start. “Not only are these children going to lose their high quality and safe child care and lose their chance to start kindergarten on par with their peers,” Holterman-Hommes said, “parents are going to lose their jobs.”