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If you want to see how badly sequestration is hurting people—and admittedly most congressional Republicans aren't interested in seeing that—look no further than Head Start programs. Cuts to Head Start hurt the kids who get kicked out of the programs, their parents who have to find other child care arrangements if they're to work or look for work, and the teachers and other staff who lose their jobs. That means that even if Head Start cuts aren't making much of a ripple in the national news, the closing of one Head Start classroom has a ripple effect through a community. Through a lot of communities:
Because much of the Head Start harm caused by sequestration lies in what won't happen (a child who could have been enrolled, money spent on day care that could have been spent elsewhere, etc.), assessing the overall damage is a difficult task. But one place to start is by observing local news coverage, which provides a daily drip of depressing developments. In a two-week period this June, it was announced that Head Start was eliminating staff positions and student spots in Cincinnati, Hannibal, Mo., Hennepin County, Minn., Cullman County, Ala., Cicero, N.Y., and elsewhere.
Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association, said that her group anticipates 65,000 fewer slots for children and 11,500 Head Start jobs being lost nationally. The impact on the Head Start community, she said, has been demoralizing, so much so that the association has begun running a mental health webinar to help with depression among Head Start staff.
Sequestration keeps hurting people, even as congressional Republicans seem to have decided that, now that they've made sure business travelers won't be inconvenienced, it's a great thing. When one mother whose daughter's Head Start program had been closed asked her congressman, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), about restoring funding to the program:
Current spending on Head Start "will probably be about the same ... in 2014, or pretty close to that," the congressman replied, according to a transcript provided by his office. "It won't be any more than that. The chances of us appropriating more money for that is almost zero."
Pompeo encouraged Reynolds to try to raise the money herself.
Which she's trying to do. But that's not exactly easy for an unemployed widowed mother of a small child. And it's precisely because those are the kind of people that Head Start serves that Republicans like Pompeo aren't concerned about funding the program. No big donors are going to be personally hurt by Head Start cuts. But the failure to invest in kids—that's something that hurts our entire society.
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Jul 09, 2013 at 08:12 AM PDT.