Team Quincy: Reported sequester effects on Head Start overblown
3 months, 2 weeks ago Bryan Nichols
The majority of the "sequester effect" stories I've heard locally have something to do with Head Start. I've seen them published in both Illinois and Missouri. We haven't reported any that I know of because it's just another excuse to whine about something which may or may not be the case.
Does it appear that Head Start will see a funding cut? Yes. However, isn't the job of the director to make the necessary changes in order to work with the budget you are given? That's how it works when you rely on government funding. Apparently, running to the press every time you are going to have to make tough choices is preferable to actually making the tough choices.
Buh, buh, but the children. I don't even feel the need to get into the debate over whether or not Head Start is actually an effective program (but commentors are welcome to do so if they choose).
Putting the press angle on the story aside, what about the fact issue?
The Washington Post fact-checker weighed in on this.
“Up to 70,000 children would lose access to Head Start and early Head Start services.”
This estimate comes from a letter written by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Let’s provide some context for that figure for the program, which is intended to be a sort of pre-school for low-income children and their families.
First of all, the budget for Head Start has been supercharged in recent years, jumping from $6.87 billion in 2008 to $7.97 billion in 2012. Enrollment, which was slightly over 900,000 for a decade, jumped to 964,000 in 2011 after receiving a $2 billion appropriation in the stimulus law, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Moreover, though the stimulus was intended to be temporary, the 7 percent boost in the size of Head Start has become permanent.
According to the fact-checker, the program received a cut of $422 million dollars in the sequester. So the claim that they are getting their budget cut is true.
However, that leaves the program with $7.55 billion dollars....$1 million more than when President Obama took office. The claim received two Pinocchios from the Washington Post.
I would suggest that the local media take the opportunity to ask a few questions and do some research every time someone comes to you with their cause and effect story. It might not turn out to be the sob story they portray it to be. As for those who are employed as directors and managers of these government-funded programs, it would behoove you to work with what you've been given instead of always expecting more.
The children will be just fine.