Due to federal government spending cuts with sequestration, L.B.J & C Head Start will be adjusting its schedule in the twelve counties it serves including DeKalb starting this August.
"As everyone knows it's a federal decision across the board, across the nation and Head Start did suffer from that," said Dorothy Pippin, L.B.J. & C. Head Start Director in an interview with WJLE Thursday. " It is estimated that nationwide 70,000 children may lose their services of Head Start. In the state of Tennessee its estimated that 1,200 children may lose services of Head Start," she said.
"L.B.J. & C. has worked it out to where we will not reduce the number of children that we are serving," said Pippin. "However we've had to make other adjustments. Staff will be going to seven hours a day versus eight so they will be cut one hour. Our operation will be from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., cutting about an hour back from the services to the children who stay all day," she said.
Locally at the Smithville Head Start Center, thirteen employees will be affected. "We have four classrooms here with eight education staff. We have two cooks, a family service person and an assistant. We also have a custodian. A total of thirteen staff. This will take affect next August when they return to work from being laid off this summer," said Pippin.
"The central office staff, the administrative staff hours will be cut beginning May 1," she added.
The Smithville Head Start Center serves 74 children ages three and four. While it is not good news that the cuts are coming, Pippin said at least no one is losing their job and Head Start services are still being provided to the children. "Hopefully this is not going to have a real large impact on anyone. Its bad news but it is good news because nobody is losing their job. They are not losing any of their benefits. They are losing one hour a day which will amount to five hours a week. I'm also concerned about the children and families but I believe we can all make adjustments and make this work," she said.
L.B.J. & C Head Start will also be closing for the summer a few days earlier than normal this year according to Pippin. "We will be closing our Head Start Centers on April 26 for the children. We have extra days built into our program and all of it depends on the weather and how bad the winters are. But normally we close out the first two or three days of May so it will only affect maybe two or three days," she said.
Pippin said she is hopeful federal funding will be restored for the Head Start program. "There is a possibility that our money will be restored and we're hoping that will happen. If it does everything will go back to normal. I hope everyone will continue to support our program and send their children because Head Start is a wonderful program," said Pippin.
L.B.J. & C. Head Start is currently accepting applications for the next school year which begins in August to provide free comprehensive child development services to children 3-5 years of age from low-income families in a full day program. Services are also offered to meet the special needs of children with disabilities. L.B.J.& C. Head Start helps all children succeed.
L.B.J.& C. Head Start provides children with activities that help them grow mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically. The L.B.J.& C Head Start recognizes that, as parents, you are the first and most important teachers of your children. They will welcome your involvement in L.B.J.& C. Head Start activities, and will work as partners with you to help your child and family progress.
Children who attend L.B.J.&C. Head Start participate in a variety of educational activities, receive free medical and dental care, free healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe environment.
L.B.J.& C. Head Start staff members will offer your child love, acceptance, understanding, and the opportunity to learn and to experience success.
For more information contact the Smithville Head Start Center at 615-597-5168.