Children’s programs feeling effects of sequester

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The Federal Aviation Administration got some help from Congress on the sequestration budget cuts, but what about all the other programs?

Aviation got a lot of attention but there are others that are still trying to figure out how they’ll pull through the sequester. Here’s the list: national parks, the FBI, the EPA, housing assistance, medical research, defense and a program for children that’s been highlighted as one that makes a difference.

“Everybody is kind of in the same boat right now,” said Ann Schreiner with Pillars Community Services.

The program Head Start, meant to help low-income children, is really feeling the effects of the sequester.

“I think it is likely we will be serving less kids, what we know we don’t want to do is provide less services,” Schreiner said.

But who knows what it’ll come to. Right now, Pillars, a not for profit running a Head Start program in the Chicago area, was told to make 5 percent cuts across the board.  Remember: they’ve cut about 30 percent of their budget in the last few years because of Illinois financial mess.  Another 5 percent makes a difference.

“That’s about $50,000 to us. We don’t have a lot of cushion, it’s a fairly shoestring operation as it is,” Schreiner said.

Heat on lawmakers seemed to make a difference when it came to air travel.

“In this case it was coming from all sides, airline executives and even congressmen who felt those delays,” said DePaul University Professor Joe Schweiter.

So will Head Start be able to generate some action? The group at Pillars fears it’s unlikely. Already an estimated 70,000 kids across the country are at risk of being pushed out by the sequester.

“My concern is that often times the people that we serve don’t really have a voice the same way that the travelers impacted by the FAA did,” Schreiner said.

It’s not clear if Congress will do anything about Head Start programs. Right now, they are off for the next week. Lawmakers are starting to get some pressure from these different agencies that have seen how quick help is possible.


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