News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

March 13, 2013

Vigo County’s Head Start is facing down cuts

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County Head Start program faces about a 5 percent reduction in funding as a result of automatic federal budget cuts, says Carole Barr, executive director of Western Indiana Community Action Agency.

“We know there will be cuts unless Congress acts immediately,” she said Tuesday. “We don’t know how we’ll implement those cuts. We’re looking at different options.”

The cut affects the current program year and takes effect immediately, barring Congressional action. For Vigo County Head Start, 5 percent is a little more than $69,000.

Vigo County Head Start is “fully enrolled,” with 224 children, she said.

In Bartholomew County south of Indianapolis, parents learned recently that 17 of 83 Head Start students, or 20 percent of the local total, must leave the program effective April 1 to help the agency meet its national mandate to reduce expenses by 5 percent overall.

Some of the options being considered by Head Starts around the state include the following, according to Barr:

n Ending the program year early. In Vigo County, the last day of Head Start classes normally would be May 17.

n Reducing or eliminating transportation services.

n Delaying the start of the program for the next school year.

n Cutting the number of students served.

Barr said the agency hopes to make a decision as soon as possible, but does not have a specific timeframe.

All of WICAA’s programs will be affected by the sequester, she said, but she doesn’t yet have specific information for all of them. She recently learned that the Foster Grandparent program will have a 4 percent cut, but again, no decision has been made on how those cuts will be implemented.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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