Sequestration cuts will spell bad news for head start programs | News

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Sequestration cuts will spell bad news for head start programs

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Unless Congress and the president take action, automatic federal spending cuts will kick in across the nation on Friday. Here in Maine, officials with Head Start say they are worried about the effects of those cuts.

About 3,000 kids in Maine participate in Head Start, which is a program that provides early childhood education and social services to low income families. More than 80 percent of children who go to pre-school through Penquis -- a social service agency serving Penobscot, Piscataquis and Knox counties -- depend on Head Start funding.

Administrators say if the spending cuts go through, they have to cut about 36 kids from the program. This would follow years of cuts for Head Start. In 2009, Penquis had more than 500 kids enrolled in the program. Today that number has dropped by 20 percent to 457 children.

"We look at a whole host of ideas in terms of where we would identify those cuts," said Jean Bridges, who is the child development director for Penquis, "and almost always it has to be that you're cutting some classrooms in order to achieve those savings."

Directors of Head Start in Maine say that they have already written to Congress, asking members to find other programs to cut if spending must be reduced.