The Administration for Children and Families released estimates for FY2014 on how the sequester of federal funds enacted by Congress this spring are expected to reduce services, such as transportation, for preschool children from low-income families nationwide and in Puerto Rico. California, Texas and New York are seeing the largest individual share of the more than 52,000 children affected.
All local agencies nationwide have the flexbility to implement 5.27-percent cuts, which the National Head Start Association said amounts to $405 million annually for program budgets. Overall, the federal early-education program is being cut by $427 million.
In all, the ACF data says 57,265 students are being cut from Head Start enrollment. California tallied 5,611 students that will lose out on services, the most in the nation, followed by Texas at 4,410 and New York state at 3,847. The other states seeing more than 2,000 students cut from enrollment are: Pennsylvania (2,812); Ohio (2,782); Tennessee (2,442); Michigan (2,204); and Massachussetts (2,015). See the complete breakdown by state.
"Sequestration has reached every corner of the country and its harmful cuts have shut the window of opportunity for tens of thousands of at-risk children – their families are struggling to mitigate unexpected changes that make it harder to have a fair shot at the American Dream," NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. "We hope Congress and the Administration can find ways to address the sequester before more children miss out on their opportunity to succeed in school and life."
NHSA released an interactive fact sheet compiled from the ACF data that also provided the number of days worth of educational services that these students stand to lose per state.
First Five Years Fund, an advocate for comprehensive early-childhood education reform, said the ACF data was released even though public support is at 70 percent for providing pre-school education for at-risk 4-year-olds and for increasing funding for education and child care programs for infants and toddlers, combined with home visiting and parent education programs for families. Kris Perry, executive director of First Five, added that the results of the survey, conducted by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research, "underscore the need to stop cuts to critical early childhood programs while drastically expanding high-quality, birth-to-five early childhood programs."
Perry also cited additional research by James Heckman, a Nobel Prize winner and economics professor at the University of Chicago, showing that every dollar invested in early childhood development produces a 7- to 10-percent return per child per year in reduced social spending and increased productivity.
"As early childhood programs continue to face steep cuts, both red and blue states alike have stepped in to fill in the gaps and expand proven early childhood programs that are working in their local communities. Recent national efforts to increase federal investments in high-quality birth-to-five programs reflect the growing recognition that states need more support to strengthen and speed up their early childhood innovations to Grow America Stronger," Perry said in a statement. "We cannot afford to wait. Budget cuts will affect critical early learning programs that ensure children are reading on grade level by third grade as much as supports for our next generation of workers — and neither help us to fuel strong economic growth. Through continued spending cuts, we leave common-sense solutions, such as early childhood education, on the chopping block and deplete our nation's greatest resources — our children."