Local Head Start program braces for sequester

Local Head Start program braces for sequester

HAMILTON COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - While the stalemate is in Washington D.C., one Tri-state program is already bracing for the potential cuts that would come with the sequester.

The Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency disperses federal funding for early education programs. Verline Dotson is in charge of doling out that money to Hamilton County's Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

"The unknown was even more unraveling when I first heard about it," she told FOX19 News.

When she found out the cuts could go to 8%, Dotson got out the calculator. By her math, the sequester could result in a $1.9 million cut which she says would likely mean a reduction of 300 students out of their current 3,666.

"We know how important and critical these early years are," Dotson said. "To have those interrupted because we can't make a decision on the Hill it is quite alarming."

Dotson worries the cuts would have a ripple effect reaching far beyond the classroom to contracted services like buses and food vendors.

She says the waiting game takes an emotional toll on teachers and parents.

"Each time we extend it, it just raises the anxiety level even higher," she told FOX19.

"The most persuasive emotion is fear," Dr. Gene Beaupre explained. "I think [politicians] use it although I don't think they would go beyond what is the possible."

Xavier political science professor Gene Beaupre says Washington politicians often use public outrage to play to their agendas.

"There's lots of games of chicken but this is like for the whole hen house," he said. "I think this is Titanic in its scope."

While Beaupre says it is impossible to know if the sequester will be realized, he does not believe it will last long if it does come to that.

"It can't persist for any period of time," he said. "It becomes a self inflicted wound for everybody that's involved in the discussion."

"We are hoping that these guys will come to a conclusion that we do not have to experience this," Dotson said.

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