Weatherford Democrat

March 1, 2013

Fed cuts could hit Head Start

Head Start, other federally funded programs face budget cuts as sequestration begins


Weatherford Democrat

— By SALLY SEXTON



As of today, many programs across the nation will begin to feel the impact of the government’s sequestration, an across-the-board set of budget cuts totaling $1.2 trillion from defense and non-defense spending over the next decade.

According to the Budget Control Act of 2011, sequestration will cut $85 billion from the federal budget in the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, slashing about $1.1 trillion more over the next decade, that could result in massive job losses, funding cuts to the national public education system and more.

Several organizations within Parker County that are funded by the government could feel an impact as well, including services provided by the non-profit Texas Neighborhood Services.

One of the services TNS provides to the public is Head Start, a program that provides early childhood services as well as family services to low-income children from birth to age 4.

“Right now, because our program runs the same calendar year as the schools, we’re only a couple of months away from being out for the summer,” TNS executive director Brad Manning said. “We don’t anticipate sequestration having an immediate impact on Head Start through this school year, but we are evaluating and watching the information coming out of [Washington, D.C.] to determine how it could impact us during the next school year.”

Manning said that while the impact is unknown, it would account for 80 percent of funding given by the government. The other 20 percent comes from local contributions and local support, he said.

“You always have contingency plans in place when you live in an era of federal funding,” Manning said.

Head Start, among other things, provides free child care, complete with breakfast and lunch, for children Monday through Friday. In addition, Head Start also offers health services, including dental checks and child physicals.

“One of the objectives of Head Start is to eliminate barriers to a child’s growth and development,” Manning said. “Medical and dental are two of the big ones that we strive to reduce.”

More than 1,200 children are participating in Head Start through Texas Neighborhood Services programs in nine counties — Wise, Parker, Palo Pinto, Erath, Somervell, Hood, Johnson, Jack and Navarro.

Head Start uses a variety of sources to involve children and families in the program, including recruitment through schools districts and advertising in the community.

“Anyone who thinks they can qualify can put in an application at our office,” Manning said.

The Weatherford Head Start offices are located at 602 W. Water Street. To find out more, call 817-598-1289 or visit the Texas Neighborhood Services website at www.txns.org.