Head Start one of many programs at risk of sequester cuts

Cheryl Miller is the Executive Director of the Head Start Association based in Indianapolis.
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There is real confusion over the $86 billion in automatic budget cuts that will be enacted if lawmakers in Washington fail to reach agreement.

Agencies are scrambling to find ways to make cuts should they need to. Head Start is one example.

It is estimated that Head Start in Indiana stands to lose $6 million if the sequester is enacted Friday.

Cheryl Miller is the Executive Director of the Head Start Association based in Indianapolis.

"We could lose up to 1,000 to 1,500 slots where we have children enrolled. Some communities, that could be the only Head Start Center they have," said Miller.

In Mooresville that could mean one of the centers two classes may have to go. The program has already cut staff and everything else down to the bone. Only the children are left, which could be the toughest decision of all - who stays and who goes.

It will not be an easy decision for Diane Poteet, who runs a Head Start in Mooresville, to make.

"We talked to parents the other night and parents are just devastated that we might have to cut services to families," said Poteet.

CJ is on the verge of starting kindergarten and his mom believes Head Start has given him jump start he needed to succeed once he gets there. Mother Erica says cutting the program back would be difficult on those who need it.

"If they had to cut this program I think there would be a lot of parents that would have problems getting kids into school and having their child have the help that they need," said Erica.

Diane Poteet says she knows the program is making a difference because she hears it from the teachers.

"The kindergarten teachers tell us they can tell who has been to Head Start and the ones who have not. We have a waiting list of kids who are already eligible and not being served so if we have to cut classes and children served that will impact children and families in the community," Poteet said.

Watching the foundation you have built come tumbling down would be hard enough. Watching these children play with blocks is a prime example because these kids will have to do what all of us have to do when Washington fails to compromise. Pick up the pieces and start again.

If the cuts are implemented no one knows how soon they would actually see a reduction in funding from the federal government.