TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- More than 400 fewer children will be able to take part in Head Start programs in Kansas because of the recent mandatory federal budget cuts, according to figures from the Kansas Head Start Association.
Before the federal budget cuts went into effect earlier this year, Kansas Head Start and Early Head Start providers had more than 9,000 slots for children from low-income families. The programs are designed to help fight poverty by offering preschool education, improving early-childhood nutrition and encouraging parental involvement, The Topeka Capital Journal reported (http://bit.ly/192Ltqy).
"It's very important for our children to get that basic attention early," said Carolyn Campbell, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education and a volunteer at Sheldon.
The federal cuts, also referred to as the sequester, cut more than 5 percent from Head Start budgets this year. That leaves Kansas with 440 fewer Head Start and Early Head Start slots, according to tallies from the Kansas Head Start Association.
"There are a lot of people who say they support early childhood education, but at a policy and funding level, that's not being realized," said Erick Vaughn, executive director of the Kansas Head Start Association.
If the sequester continues next year, grants could shrink further, which Vaughn said could have a more severe effect than this year's cuts.