Local News

Head Start could lose ground in budget cuts

Posted February 28, 2013

— Federal budget cuts that go into effect Friday will force 1,500 North Carolina youngsters out of their Head Start classrooms in the coming months, according to official estimates.

The preschool program is designed to help children up to 5 years old whose families live below the poverty line get ready for kindergarten.

Cumberland County has the fifth-largest Head Start enrollment in North Carolina, with 900 children. Donna Barnette, the local program director, said Thursday that she will do everything she can to avoid cutting enrollment, noting hundreds of area children are on a waiting list for the program.

"It's heartbreaking to hear that these children and their families that are trying to work and go to school won't have these support services," Barnette said.

"These students benefit a lot from this program. I see children who do not go to these schools, and I can see and I feel that they're missing out on a lot," said Rubi Salgado, who teaches at the Ashton Woods Head Start, off Bragg Boulevard.

Head Start class An estimated 1,500 could be dropped from Head Start in NC

In addition to basic reading, writing and math skills, children in Head Start learn social skills such as teamwork. Barnette said she wishes that Congress and the White House would use some of those same skills.

"It is very frustrating that, as adults, they can't come up with a workable plan instead of just cutting across the board," she said.

About 200 people work for Head Start in Cumberland County, and they also face the loss of their jobs because of federal cuts.

Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday that Head Start is unlikely to see any impact from the cuts until July, at the earliest. After that, he said, the state would have to find money to fill the gaps.

Barnette said trimming enrollment and payroll would be her last resort, adding that donations and funding partners might be able to make up for the lost federal funds.


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  • superman Mar 1, 2013

    If you cant support your kids I really dont feel sorry for you. Just do like "some" of us and do the best you can. It is a little late to be thinking about feeding them and educating them after they get to your house. People in this country have gotten to the point they expect the rest of us to take up the slack in their lives. If the parents didnt finish school or learn a trade so they can support themselves--it is on them and not me. I am not responsible for your life. If parents would stay off crack and cocaine maybe they would be intelligent enough to help their kids.

  • goldenosprey Mar 1, 2013

    "No, Gov. I'm tired of "poor" people making babies they don't have to support. Just end the "program"." Morrigan

    Morry would rather moan about supporting adults than helping set up young'uns well. Kindergarten is not what it was back in the old days. It's not gluing macaroni on construction paper. Giving all kids the opportunity to get a decent start in school is good for the economy. If more red states had good pre-K programs they might not have to mooch off the blue states' tax dollars so much.

  • cynda-ur-way Mar 1, 2013

    I was one of the people on the waiting list a couple years ago. My child did not attend and I now regret not pushing harder for her to get accepted. Kindergarten is very different then what we grew up with. These children are expected to know things that we did not even start till 1-2nd grade. Just teaching colors,shapes,numbers and ABC, isnt near enough to prepare them for school these days. Pre-K is needed to keep these kids on par with what they are expected to know to start school.

  • Terkel Mar 1, 2013

    A 4 yo was born in 2009. Was it a "Smart Start" on the part of the parents who need welfare to send a kid to daycare, to make a kid in that economy? No. Did they care about that? No. Then at least don't add to the insult by telling me I have to pay for their daycare.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun Mar 1, 2013

    WRAL did a documentary on Kids having kids. It's still on this site. I just showed it to my teenager. I'm talking, I hope the teenager is listening.

  • mrday69 Mar 1, 2013

    Quick WRAL...get a reporter and camera to these Head Start Schools and catch those evil Repubs forcing kids out on the street and locking the doors....oh the humanity.

  • Rebelyell55 Mar 1, 2013

    I'm betting that a "tax" or "fee" or something like it will come up to cover the cost. Didn't a judge rule that they have to do this? They'll find the money (in your pocket) to keep this going.

  • Unbroken Mar 1, 2013

    That's okay, thankfully this program and others like it will continue to exist and we can continue to breed the cons outta this country for good.

  • aspenstreet1717 Mar 1, 2013

    Time has come for parents to start looking after their kids. If they can't maybe they should choose not to have kids.

  • wayneboyd Mar 1, 2013

    That is the best news I heard coming out of the sequester. Also I can't recall offhand any government program that has ever been a success, except the WPA.
    But getting real, I'll wager not one child will be affected. This is just another case of the lefties knee jerking.