Head Start centers in Southern Arizona face sequester cuts
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - An 8 billion dollar federal program that has helped millions of low income kids get ready for school is in danger. Head Start is among the programs facing sequester cuts.
4 year old twins Eric and Emma know the alphabet -- the letter sounds -- and the words that begin with the same sounds. One of the teachers behind their learning is Melissa Hall, who says her mission to make sure her students are Kindergarten ready.
"(The twins) are showing you right now how much they know. How much this program has benefited them and how much they deserve it," said Hall.
Hall has been with Head Start for 6 years, but now she's worried she may soon be out of work. "For me that means just as much of a struggle and sacrifice for my own family as it does for the children I work with," she said.
"It was not expected and it just doesn't make any sense," said Maggie Malloy, the executive director of 43 centers throughout Southern Arizona.
She says her Head Start program runs a very lean operation so an across the board cut of 5 percent would be devastating. "Unless something happens to stop this, the cut is so big that would, of course, cut into administration and other cuts -- there will be no way to meet it without cuts to children and services," said Malloy.
But Malloy says there is time to take action since her Head Start program runs September through May. "Rather than frighten people by saying Head Start won't be here. We've chosen to really be proactive and get sequestration worked out and thereby avoid having to make cuts.."
Malloy says head start employees and parents are calling Congressmen every day to tell them how important the program is to the community.