Knoxville-Knox County Head Start faces sequestration budget cuts

Knoxville-Knox County Head Start faces sequestration budget cuts

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Daniel Marquez's mother said she couldn't afford to send him to preschool without Head Start. Daniel Marquez's mother said she couldn't afford to send him to preschool without Head Start.
If the sequestration goes through, up to 80 kids and their families may no longer be helped and as many as ten people could lose their jobs. If the sequestration goes through, up to 80 kids and their families may no longer be helped and as many as ten people could lose their jobs.
"We're talking about cutting kids, services. And of course the biggest cost in Head Start is staff, because of adult to child ratios," said Knoxville-Knox County Head Start Director Joyce Farmer. "We're talking about cutting kids, services. And of course the biggest cost in Head Start is staff, because of adult to child ratios," said Knoxville-Knox County Head Start Director Joyce Farmer.
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By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - With the budget cuts set to take effect on Friday, several local agencies are trying to anticipate how they will be affected.

There are five Head Start centers in Knox County that serve a total of nearly 1,000 children, most of them three and four-year-olds for preschool, and it's all free to families.

Daniel Marquez, 4, has been attending Head Start for the last two years, preparing to go to kindergarten this August.

"He knows all his ABC's now by heart. He knows his numbers. He's really great at matching," said his mother, Maria Rodriguez.

She said she couldn't afford to send him to preschool anywhere else.

"It's really ridiculous how expensive childcare is, and here it's not just childcare, it's learning," she said.

They don't have specifics yet, but Head Start administrators have been told to prepare to cut five to eight percent from their budget for the next ten years. 

"We're talking about cutting kids, services. And of course the biggest cost in Head Start is staff, because of adult to child ratios," said Knoxville-Knox County Head Start Director Joyce Farmer.

That means up to 80 kids and their families may no longer be helped and as many as ten people could lose their jobs.

"None of us thought that would really happen. Now in recent weeks, I've begun to think this could happen. In recent days, I've become pretty certain it would," Farmer said.

As that reality sinks in, everyone is trying to prepare themselves for the changes. 

"I don't think it's fair. Every child deserves, from an early age, to get that opportunity to learn," Rodriguez said.

While the children are the main focus, Head Start also tries to help their families by connecting them with other community resources, anything from food and clothing to health care and job training.

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