Head Start to hold rally
by Paisley Boston
Oct 08, 2013 | 3487 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bolivar County Community Action Agency, Inc. is preparing for its 48th Annual Head Start Awareness Program at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The public is invited to listen to various speakers such as former Head Start student Attorney Linda Coleman, parents and legislators.

The purpose of the event is to provide information about the recent budget cuts that have caused over 47 children to be dropped from the county Head Start Program.

"Head Start was cut over $57,000 across the nation and the rally in regards to congress believing that the sequestration is harmless. Congress wants us to ignore it because they feel that Head Start is not needed. In our program we had 47 children that were cut," said Education ad Early Childhood Director Phanesia Johnson.

"Those families will have to either pay for childcare or quit their jobs to care for their children, which may cause children to get the proper education that they need in order to be ready for kindergarten, and could later lead to being a prison statistic. Head Start is greatly needed because it has an impact on all families," she added.

Budget cuts mandated by sequestration have eliminated Head Start services for more than 57,000 children nationwide, according to new data released by the federal government.

The automatic, across-the-board budget cuts have also resulted in pay cuts or layoffs for at least 18,000 employees of Head Start, which provides education, nutrition, and health services for children aged 5 and under.

Overall, Head Start will provide 1.3 million fewer days of service nationwide because of the cuts, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which operates the program.

Last year, more than 956,000 children were enrolled in Head Start overall.

The data was collected from individual Head Start programs that submitted plans to the federal government explaining how they would handle the mandatory cuts. Local grant recipients who administer the program have the discretion to decide what parts of their program would bear the brunt of the cuts.

According to Executive Director of Education for Head Start Elnora Littleton, Bolivar County Head Start/Early Head Start wants to show members of Congress just how real and painful these cuts are in their own communities.

"Together we'll show our representation and the impact of the empty seats for Head Start Children who cannot attend the program this year because of sequestration cuts," said Littleton.

According to Johnson, the sequestration began last year, but it did not directly affect Bolivar County until this year.

"Our funding year starts in September so we were O.K., but other programs in Mississippi and across the nation were affect, some centers were even forced to close down early," she added.