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Head Start programs skirt big cuts

SoVaNow.com / August 22, 2013


Despite funding cuts due to the federal budget sequester, Head Start programs in Halifax and Mecklenburg counties have weathered the storm much better than others.

Nationally, there are an estimated 57,000 pre-schoolers who are unable to take advantage of Head Start and Early Learning programs, due to across-the-board budget cuts implemented by Congress in the spring.

Locally, the Head Start program currently operates nine classes for pre-school children, according to Head Start Director Patricia Taylor with the Tri-County Community Action Agency.

Taylor said her agency lost about $62,000 in federal funds due to the sequester, which meant she had to cut out one class. Taylor said she will not know the exact amount of the cuts for another month or so.

Currently, Head Start operates out of Tri-Rivers’ Riverdale home and at Sydnor Jennings Elementary in Volens and at Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax.

In Mecklenburg County, Head Start classes are offered in Boydton, La Crosse and Chase City.

Taylor said class sizes are limited to 20 members for four year olds, and 17 members for three year olds.

“We are not fully enrolled at this point,” Taylor said, noting there are a few available slots in both Halifax and Mecklenburg which she expects to fill very shortly as her agency is currently screening youngsters for the remaining spots.

The Halifax County school division operates two Early Learning Centers, one at Cluster Springs, the other in South Boston. On Tuesday, Assistant School Superintendent Valdivia Marshall said she and Herndon have been so committed to the program that they have worked hard to keep it afloat despite the federal reductions.

“We know how important it is for the young children to be able to take advantage of these programs,” Marshall said.

Across the country, some Head Start programs have trimmed the number of days they offer Pre-K classes.



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