Sequester May Cause Community Action Lay Offs And Class Eliminations

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)- Head Start and Early Head Start aim to break the cycle of poverty by providing early learning opportunities for infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.

But with sequestration cutting federal funding 5.27%, Topeka's Community Action faces some tough lessons.

"I started as Head Start director in 1987 and this is without a doubt the biggest funding elimination that I have ever seen," said Executive Director of Community Action, Phyllis Marmon.

To deal with the loss, Community Action is considering a plan that will close one pre-school class, eliminating 20 enrollment slots for pre-schoolers. And close one Early Head Start class, cutting 8 infant/ toddler slots.

In addition, instead of operating full-day, year-round, classes will be reduced to half-days, 4 days a week, during the school year only.

Republican Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins says the Head Start cuts are an example of the Democratic Obama Administration targeting the wrong areas.

"None of those cuts have to be made there. That is a choice made by the administration, so we are going to continue to pressure the administration. The whole purpose of making a 2% cut is for you to carve out waste. And every American family I know has had to cut 2% out of their budget," said Jenkins.

If the cuts stand, Community Action says 6 staff positions will be eliminated, and all staff will see hours reduced and face summer layoffs.

"It's just sad. We do a great service for families. We have a waiting list. That waiting list will be longer now," said Marmon.

Other programs with Community Action also could be impacted by the sequester. It would eliminate the Community Service Block grant, which provides them some funding.