Head Start could be forced to slash kids' spots

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Massive budget cuts are possible to a long list of programs if Congress doesn’t come to an agreement by March 1. Many state programs are crunching the numbers, trying to figure out what the possible budget cuts will mean for Hoosiers.

More than 2,000 kids in Marion and Hamilton counties rely on Head Start, which provides programs for less fortunate children and families. The executive director of the program says if the budget isn't fixed in Washington, it could mean 10 percent of their kids will be forced to leave.

ONLINE EXTRA | Click here to read more about sequestration's impact

 “We've been following it very closely to figure out what the impact would be in our program,” says Diane Baker, the Executive Director of Family Development Services.

Baker says as of now the worst case scenario is the program will have to cut $1 million — and that's just for the Marion County and Hamilton County Head Start classrooms. Baker says that would mean 200 kids in the 3- to 4-year-old classrooms and about 15 infants and toddlers would be cut.

“It would really, I think, be shameful for our parents and for our children,” says Baker.

Baker says, not only will the families be affected, but the sequester could mean a cut in staff. Nationwide if the budget isn't fixed, 1 out of 13 kids will be cut from Head Start along with 10,000 jobs.

“I understand the fiscal constraints and the concerns about the budget deficit and all of those things, but these are people and these are children that are really going to suffer as a result of this,” says Baker.

Baker says it costs the program about $6,700 per year for a student in the classroom for ages 3 and 4. It costs about $10,500 a year to care for an infant or toddler child. It is the largest Head Start program in the state.

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