Federal budget cuts hit Denver head start programs

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DENVER -- Sequestration is being blamed for cutting $400 million to the budget for Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Here in Denver, there are five head start programs serving more than 2,000 kids and those families are definitely starting to see changes.

“It provides them with wraparound services like health, dental, vision screenings, early identification of disability and intervention services,” said Lindsay Neil, Director of Children’s Affairs for the City of Denver.

It’s a big hand to the families who need it the most, which is why it’s all the more frustrating that this valuable program is dealing with big budget cuts. Each provider has to slash about 5.5 percent.

“Some programs have had to close classrooms, some programs have had to lay off teachers, some programs are shortening the length of their school day or their school year,” said Neil.

At Family Star Montessori in Denver, they’re cutting costs at the expense of individual kids.

“We’ve had to turn away 13 families and continue to have to readjust our enrollment,” said Annelise Nugent. “It’s a hardship in order to not be able to serve these community numbers and see the children that we are really here for not being served.”

These programs will have to operate with less through next June. Unless, by some chance, lawmakers come together to make sure kids aren’t paying the price for politics.

“We’re hoping that politicians at the federal level can work this out because it’s kids back in their hometowns that are impacted by the bickering,” said Neil.