Sequester will hit local Head Start program

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What does the sequester mean to Walla Walla Public School’s Head Start/ECEAP Preschool?

Currently, the local Head Start/ECEAP preschool serves 217 of our community’s most at-risk 3- and 4-year-old learners. With the proposed 5.3 percent across-the-board cuts in the federal budget, $398 million would be cut from Head Start, a federal program for preschool children from low-income families.

Nearly $9 million, or at least 1,000 children, would be eliminated from state Head Start programs.

Walla Walla Public Schools could experience a reduction in funding of over $50,000. The potential impact to the WWPS Head Start/ECEAP preschool could result in the closure of an entire classroom, which equates to the loss of early learning opportunities for up to 17 children as well as reductions in staff. This would increase numbers of the already long waiting list.

Many children qualify based upon income and family need, but lack of funding from the state and federal government already hinder the number of children we can provide preschool services for. Funding losses will further prohibit our program from meeting the needs of our Valley’s young learners.

If cuts do go into effect, they would not likely affect our current program year as we are considered a 2012 funding year with a Sept. 1 start date.

This would give us time to plan for a smaller program next year if the government shutdown does indeed happen. This will be a sad day in our community as these families and students desperately need our services.

I encourage our elected officials to work together to minimize the negative impact this sequestration would have in our community.

Kerri Coffman

Walla Walla Public Schools

Head Start/ECEAP Preschools director

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