Impact of sequester cuts trickle down to Valley Head Start

Head Start cuts

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - Learning to share, make friends and how to wash your hands are the basic building blocks that all begin in Head Start.

We met 3-year-old Diego Moreno outside Agua Caliente Elementary School with his backpack on, already geared up for his first day in the preschool program come August. His mom, Esmerelda, says the perks of the program are the fact that it is preparing Diego for kindergarten.

"He'll already knows how to learn, write his name, it'll give him that head start," said Moreno.

The federally funded program serves nearly one million children of low-income families across the country, but after sequestration kicked in, Head Start cut 5 percent of its budget.
Joan Prehoda, head of the Early Childhood Education department, said for the Palm Springs Unified School District, that equals nearly $85,000 in cuts.

"We have to pay our employees; after that, there's not much else left, so we've really reduced and cut back as far as we can," said Prehoda.

The cuts didn't force the PSUSD to close any Head Start classrooms, but they could affect how kids learn and play.

"There's limited amount of budget available for toys, educational materials in classrooms," said Prehoda.

She said tricycles, which help kids practice their motor skills, are some of the supplies on the chopping block.

"If a tricycle breaks and I don't have one in storage, I won't be able to order a new one," said Prehoda.

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