Sequester Cuts Hit Minn. 'Head Start' Program Hard

Updated: 06/10/2013 8:32 PM
Created: 06/10/2013 5:41 PM
By: Katherine Johnson

Hundreds of children are bused into Hennepin County Head Start facilities from local homeless shelters on a daily basis to start early childhood development while their parents search for housing and jobs.

"I found Head Start when I was homeless," said parent, Yvonne White.  "I'm on my way to getting my high school diploma, we have housing now..."

And the list goes on.

"It's deeper than just one child being affected," said another parent depending on the program, Shawnee Twiet.  "It's a whole family, it's a whole community being affected."

In Hennepin County, program leaders say they'll be forced to eliminate 14 staff members and slash 90 spots from the program.

"We can do better and we must do better," said Rep. Keith Ellison.

Congressman Ellison doesn't believe low-income families have the power to fight the cuts the way larger groups, like the FAA, do.

"I'm trying to help folks understand the human side of sequester. It is a three-year-old child," he said.

Statewide, 500-600 spots for young children will be eliminated from the program and 120 full-time jobs with benefits will be cut if the sequester is not reversed by the time the cuts go into effect.  For Hennepin County, that's this fall.

"You can't possibly imagine how somebody wouldn't want nothing but love for them, but our society is turning its back on them," said Rep. Ellison.

The cuts don't count the long lists of kids who want to join these programs.  There are 1,000 kids on the Hennepin County waiting list, alone.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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