Head Start funding in jeopardy

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) — Congress is in recess right now, but lawmakers have a March 1st deadline to act if they don't want budget cuts. And that cut may affect local programs like Head Start in Western Massachusetts.

Sequestration - Simply put, it's an across-the-board funding cut.

From the defense department to the meat industry, everyone will be affected, and that includes preschoolers who attend programs like Head Start.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said he wants to expand Head Start , but if Congress doesn't act by March 1st, Head Start will actually lose more than $9 million in funding.

And that's just in Massachusetts. Nationwide the program is looking at a $400 million cut.

So Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Head Start is already looking at money-saving options that will not involve cutting jobs or services.

Nicole Blaise, Director of Community Engagement at Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Head Start said “We even talked about paper products and bringing in real plates and china so we wash dishes. Bringing in our own coffee and creamer. All these little things that over the course of the year do add up.”

But voters hope it's something educators will never have to worry about.

Gus Files of Whitefish, Montana told 22News “We need education. We need an informed public, and we can't do that if we don't bring our children up from the beginning in an environment where they can ask, challenge, question and learn and grow.”

Lynn Murphy of Chicopee said “Basis of our economy is children learning, and then parents have to have kids go to pre-school so they can go to work.”

The hope is Head Start won't have to cut the number of teachers they have or the number of students they serve.

Without Head Start some families won't be able to afford pre-school education for their children.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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