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Sequester means cuts to Head Start programs but not training

May 3, 2013 at 1:47 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- Sequester cuts slashed Head Start programs for low-income children but 2,800 Head Start leaders still could attend a conference in Maryland, officials said.

Head Start leaders from across the nation could attend the conference in National Harbor, Md., this week because they draw funds from a section of their budget set aside for training and technical assistance, and the Office of Head Start absorbed those cuts so grantees' training budgets would remain intact, ABC News reported Friday.

"The Office of Head Start is committed to working with programs to ensure the provision of high-quality services continue during this challenging time of sequestration," Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of Administration for Children and Families' office of public affairs, told ABC News in an email.

The conference included seminars and lectures on teaching parents, educators and administrators to use data to improve programs. Head Start's mission is to help low-income children up to age 5 to develop social and cognitive skills before entering the education system.

Wolfe said the event's total approved cost was $752,059.

Training and technical assistance money cannot be reallocated to cover operating costs without congressional direction.

So while Vanessa Gibbons, director of Jackson County Civic Action Committee in Moss Point, Miss., would rather use the funds to keep the Head Start doors open, she had to cut her program by 10 days this year, ABC News said.

"They specifically told us we could not cut our training budget," Gibbons told ABC News. "Those dollars were not even in the equation. That would have made it easy. But that was not even an option."

The problem Head Start faces is similar to one that led the Federal Aviation Administration to furlough workers and position flights in a way that slowed air travel. However, Congress passed a measure giving the FAA the flexibility to reallocate unused improvement funds to void flight delays.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., posted an animated airplane on Twitter with "#endthesequester," ABC News said.

"4 million meals for seniors eliminated ... 70,000 children kicked out of Head Start ... 125,000 Americans without rental assistance," the message read. "But your next flight will be on time."

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