Head Start Making Budget Cuts

ROCKFORD (WIFR) – A local agency is starting to feel the effects of massive federal budget cuts.
We checked back in with Head Start which is being forced to turn some families away.

The federal cuts mean a loss of more than $245,000 for Rockford Head Start. Now, the program won’t be able to take in dozens of kids.

Head Start will take 34 fewer kids in the fall, by taking fewer applications. That way, current students won’t have to be cut. The agency will mainly cut from its 3-5 year old, home-base program where kids learn at home, since it would have the least impact.

It only operates an hour and a half per day, one day a week, meaning actual classrooms won’t be affected. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be hard.

“We know how much our community needs services in the high poverty rate in Winnebago County and just the need for the support to young families and we also very much advocate for early childhood experiences for every family,” said Joanne Lewis, Director of Head Start.

Five full-time spots and one part-time position will also be eliminated, some through attrition. Other staff members are being placed in different jobs, but there’s one employee they still need to place by the end of the summer, otherwise that person could be laid off.

Head Start hopes funding will be reinstated next year, so they can serve more children. They’re also hoping for more partnerships like the one with District 205 which also allows them to help more families.

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