Forsyth County Head Start Site Will Close Because of a Loss in Federal Funding
Nationwide, Head Start programs are feeling the painful impact of sequestration, or federal budget cuts. According to the Administration for Children and Families, about 70,000 children nationwide will lose access to Head Start because of the cuts. In Forsyth County, Family Services in Forsyth County is bracing to close one of its Head Start sites, because of the loss in funding.
The Head Start program in Forsyth County is losing $214,000 in federal funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Bob Feikema is President and CEO of Family Services. He says the budget cuts will mean a loss of four existing classrooms.
“What we have to do is look at closing one of our facilities. We are going to be affected with a loss of the site, and unfortunately, we are going to have to lay off some staff because we will have fewer classrooms of our own,” says Feikema.
Head Start is a federally funded, preschool program designed to meet emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs of three and four year olds and their families. The program helps low-income children to be better prepared for school. In Forsyth County, nearly 500 kids participate in the early child development program.
Feikema says the cuts come at a time when the N.C. General Assembly has already cut pre-K programs by around 40 percent. On top of that, the state House approved a bill just last month changing the legal definition of an at-risk child. As a result, only half of the 60,000 children currently eligible for Pre-K would qualify under the new guidelines
Feikema says despite closing of one of its learning centers, Family Services has found a way to minimize the impact on families.
“What we have been able to do is move some of those classrooms to our other facilities and to also open some additional classrooms through our collaboration with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system.” Feikema says, “The result is contrary to many Head Starts around the country, we are neither going to reduce enrollment or reduce the number of days kids have in the program.”
Feikema wouldn’t name which Head Start site would close in Forsyth County, but says Family Services will make the announcement in the coming weeks.