Budget cuts mean fewer children at Head Start

WASHINGTON (AP) - Automatic federal spending cuts will reduce the number of low-income children in Head Start's preschool programs by more than 57,000 during the next school year, the Office of Head Start said Monday.

More than a million children are served each year by the programs, which are a legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson 1960s war on poverty. The programs help prepare children for elementary school and also provide them with meals and health care. Twenty-nine percent of the participating children are black, 37 percent are Latino and 41 percent are white.

The total reduction of 57,265 in the number of children who will be served by Head Start next year results from the automatic spending cuts that were put in place after Congress and the White House failed to reach agreement two years ago on a plan to cut the federal deficit. The Head Start Office said it surveyed each of its programs across the country to determine the total number of reductions.

California has the largest reduction, serving 5,611 fewer children, followed by Texas, 4,410; New York, 3,847; Pennsylvania, 2,812; and Ohio, 2,782.

In addition, Head Start officials said 18,000 staff member will see their pay cut or will lose their jobs. Head Start centers also will be reducing their hours and the number of days they are open.

President Barack Obama returned to Washington from vacation Monday, and Congress returns after Labor Day. A top item on both their agendas is the federal budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, along with negotiations to reduce the federal deficit.

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Online: State-by-state breakdown of Head Start reductions: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/ohs_sequestration_by_state.pdf

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Follow Suzanne Gamboa at http://www.twitter.com/APsgamboa


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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