Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Indiana Head Start Programs Beginning To Drop Students From Rosters

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Playing at the sand table helps Head Start students at Eastview Elementary in Connersville develop fine motor skills.

Many Indiana Head Start programs will soon start cutting students from their rosters, a move many program directors hoped to avoid in the wake of automatic federal budget spending cuts.

Human Services Inc. held a much-publicized lottery last week to determine which students wouldn’t return to classrooms in Franklin and Columbus. The program needed to cut three dozen kids from its rolls.

“We wanted to be proactive because the budget cuts are retroactive for a program year,” Jeremy Wells, associate director of children’s services for Head Start in Columbus and Franklin, told the AP. “As of right now, we’re overspent.”

The White House estimates Indiana could lose as many as 1,000 Head Start slots, though program directors across the state say they’re committed to making the impact on students and families minimal. But even the most optimistic concede cuts are coming.

Geminus Head Start Director Karen Carradine says she’d rather let administrative staff go than eliminate programming for 1,500 students in Lake and Porter counties. But if comes to cutting kids, she says Geminus will wait until summer, when 5-year-olds age out of Head Start and go on to kindergarten.

But programs further along in their fiscal year than Geminus may not have the same luxury, says Cheryl Miller, executive director for the Indiana Head Start Association.

“If they started spending 2013-14 money in January of this year, they’ve already spent about three months of their money,” says Miller. “They’re going to have to take the total 5 percent cut out of what ends up being about 75 percent of their grant because they already spent some of the money before these cuts came down to them.”

To make up the deficit, Miller says many programs will close early this summer, some by as many as a month and a half. That leaves parents on the hook for childcare and could impact hourly workers like aides who will lose six weeks of wages but don’t qualify for unemployment.

Then there’s the possibility some communities will lose Head Start altogether. Even if a 5 percent cut only amounts to one classroom, Miller says it’s likely some programs will have to close down entire centers to save on overhead and facility fees.

“If I was going to have to speak to the kindergarten, first and second grade teachers at that elementary school where those children were going to go after Head Start,” says Miller, “I would tell them to prepare for the fact they’re going to have larger numbers of children coming in that have never had preschool.”


  • Gene

    Head Start’s own multi-year comprehensive statistical analysis demonstrated the program has no positive impact. Why is it still funded ?

  • Kindwyn Hoge

    This is so heartbreaking. I have created a online petition to hopefully stop the budget sequester cuts to the headstart program. My son is in his last year of headstart and he loves it they do so much for those kids and teach them essential skills to help them succeed in school and in life. My son has learned so much and the staff love those kids so much and they help teach them about nutrition, brushing their teeth, washing hands, the importance of physial fitness, the do health screenings and if the kids have any special needs or are disabled they make sure that they get into special programs and have the right resources to help those children so that they be successful and have a chance at school. They do so much for the kids i could probably write a book about so many nice things they do. The program works and its a blessing for those families who are low income and who without the headstart program wouldnt be afford to send their children to any preschool. The headstart program does work and they do a whole lot of things for those kids to help them be ready for kindergarden and beyond. It is morally wrong too discriminate against poor low income children and deny them the chance to be able to be able to learn skills to help them also succeed in schools like all the rich kids get to do. the link to my petition is
    If any of you are as heartbroken about this as I am please sign my petition and share it with others so hopefully we can make a difference and hellp the children of the future get that chance to have a headstart in life too. Its not fair to punish the children just because they are poor and its not right to have all that money go to billion dollar corporations and oil subsidies and wall street where they only care about themselves and their own greed why give it out to coroporations for corporate welfare when it should be going to help our children as they are the future and they deserve a chance to succeed.

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