LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Friday, March 1st is the deadline for sequestration. The proposed cuts could impact families and workers of Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

If the cuts go through, Head Start and Early Head Start programs would be eliminated for 2,700 kids in the state of Florida and 1,700 in Georgia. In 2008 in Florida, nearly 41,000 kids were enrolled in those programs.

Kids like Kiyontay Edee. Kiyontay and his mother, Misline, have been going to Episcopal Children's Services since Kiyontay was just seven months old.

"He speaks two languages. They teach him a little bit of the basic Creole and then the basic English. He is learning so much!"

Kiyontay is now almost two years old, and Edee worries what the federal cuts would do to her family.

CEO of Episcopal Children's Services Connie Stophel said the organization has already been working on 80 percent of its budget and sequestration could mean bad news for the programs.

"We would have to cut our programs back to four days a week," Stophel explains. "For us, the longer-term impact is if it goes through and it stays, then we have to really look at the impact on about 65 children who we would have to defund the next year, and terminating about 20 staff members."

Stophel said if the federal cuts happen, the furlough would start immediately through September. Then, October 1st would be when ECS would look at cutting eight percent of its staff and 10 percent of the kids it serves. She said those students would be selected using a point system, which is based on need.

She said it doesn't make the decision any easier,

"We look into these beautiful faces, and I just think 'Are you the one that we won't be able to serve next week?'"

The four-day day week would also be hard on the families of the students, because, like Edee, many parents work during the time their children are at Head Start.

"To have our child be able to come here seven hours a day, it helps us because we're not paying for that childcare, which we can't afford right now," Edee says.

Episcopal Children's Services says it plans to seek outside funding, such as private grants and fundraisers, to help cover the deficit.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE