Sequestration is one of the most recent challenges for Head Start and Early Head Start programs. I believe that now is the time for Head Start and Early Head Start programs to create both a short-term and long-term plan to address sequestration.
Cutting 5% is quite a task since Head Start and Early Head Start programs already run their programs on a lean budget. Programs are having to be creative to find 5% of their budget to cut. Short-term options such as enrollment reductions, staff reductions, shorter program year, switching program options and many other possibilities are being considered. Unfortunately, many of the options come at quite a cost to Head Start children and families, staff and the community. Brainstorming has produced many additional budget cutting ideas as well.
I’ve always believed that Head Start should not put all of their “eggs” in the “Head Start basket”. It is risky to assume that there will never be a cut in Head Start funding and, unfortunately, that is certainly the case now.
A long-term strategy that I recommend is researching and applying for additional grant opportunities. Additional grant opportunities can support your Head Start or Early Head Start grant and assist in defraying some of the costs that are currently coming out of your Head Start grant. There are early childhood-related grants available that could be a good match with Head Start and Early Head Start grants. This way, programs are not placing all of their “eggs” in “one basket” and can more easily manage and maneuver when Head Start funding gets cut.
— Deborah Kaiser