Rep. Castor wants to halt federal cuts to Head Start - WNCT

Rep. Castor wants to halt federal cuts to Head Start

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

We've all heard about the efforts the federal government is doing to cut back on spending.

The sequestration seems to have had an impact on everything from national defense to air shows.

But Representative Kathy Castor says cuts to an education program could have a drastic impact on not only children, but some parents as well.

Hillsborough County's Head Start program is more than just a preschool, it invests in the future of both children and their parents.

The program supports low income families with young kids, including those with special needs.

When Loretta first enrolled her son in Head Start, he could not speak due to a terrible speech impediment.

Loretta said, "He could not talk, he could not say two words, he had to point at everything.  I had to guess what he wanted."

Thanks to the program, Loretta's son is overcoming his speech impediment.

"I love to hear him talk and just the fact that Head Start made that happen, it's really something special," said Loretta.

Thanks to the help of Head Start, she's been given a chance to get a college degree.

"Head Start is not a day care, they want the parents to become better for themselves, better for their children, to bring themselves up."

But Representative Kathy Castor says the program is at risk.

Under sequestration, Head Start nationally will be cut by nearly $400 million.

"These are going to produce very dire consequences for these kids," said Castor.

Castor says across Florida, 3,000 kids could be cut from the program.

In Hillsborough County, playgrounds and bus services could be eliminated. Also staff would be reduced and families would be dropped.

Not to mention, there are a thousand local kids on a waiting list, and they would be left out to dry.

Representative Castor co-sponsored an amendment that would turn back cuts to schools and Head Start, but that measure was defeated by a house committee.

Castor is pushing congress to make changes to the cuts, similar to what was done for air traffic controllers.

Castor said, "They need to recognize that the head start investments are on par with the investments we make in the travel and tourism industry."

Castor says thousands of kids and parents are depending on this program.

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