Local Head Start could be losing 5 percent of federal funding

MARSHALL CO. — Spending cuts in Washington could be affecting some Marshall County children soon.
President and CEO of Marshall-Starke Development Center Mike Lintner visited the county commissioners’ meeting Monday to give an annual report. During the report, Lintner said that he was notified Friday that the federal funding for Head Start — a preschool program for children ages 3 to 5 from low-income families — could be cut by up to 5 percent as a result of the federal sequester.
Lintner noted that Head Start is currently funded to serve 182 children. They have a waiting list and try to keep 182 children enrolled at all times.
He said in a phone interview later that he is “99 percent sure” no kids will be cut from the program.
“We really haven’t had a chance to look at all of our options, but one option that’s been suggested is maybe cutting down on the program (offerings),” said Lintner.
He added that no employees will be let go at this time, but that when the school year starts in September there might be some shifts in workers.
“This summer we are hoping to get some more clarification on what (funding) is going to be there and we will have more information going forward,” said Lintner.
Lintner said that Head Start is the only program affected by these cuts because it is the only program at Marshall-Starke that is 100 percent federally funded.
The government-funded Women, Infants, and Children program may also see some cuts to its budget. Marshall County WIC director Annette Osborn said that she’s not sure what the changes will be.
“We knew that yes, some things would be cut at WIC (as a result of the sequester) but we haven’t heard anything yet,” said Osborn Tuesday. “There has been talk going around about this since before Christmas.”
Donna Vela, director of Marshall County Housing Authority, said Tuesday that she received a letter two weeks ago from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Vela said that the letter warned of possible funding losses.
Reading from the letter, Vela said, “If the sequester occurs there will be an immediate cut across the board to the housing choice voucher program for the remainder of 2013.”
“March 27 is when the continuing resolution for last year’s (budget) expires,” said Vela, adding that the Marshall County office runs on a fiscal year of January to December.
The letter also stated that sequestration would have a significant impact on administrative fees — in other words, funds available to pay employees and purchase office supplies.
“This is going to hurt my people,” said Vela. “They will probably try to get it to where we are giving less assistance to each person (rather than) actually assisting less people.”
The Housing Authority office currently provides rent assistance to 130 people in Marshall County.