EUGENE, Ore. — Local Head Start advocates demonstrated outside of Representative Peter DeFazio’s office Friday to tell the congressman they are not happy about the effect the sequester will have on Head Start programs.
For event organizer and parent Aloma Murray, Head Start is a family affair.
“I just felt like it was really important to have a part in this today to show our support here in Eugene,” Murray said.
Her daughter, 5-year-old Sequoia, says she loves her teachers at Head Start and has enjoyed her last two years in the program. And while she’s aging out this year, her baby sister will be born in and might not be eligible for the program.
But spending cuts from the sequester could cause less open spots in a program that doesn’t have enough room for the 700 families currently on the waiting list.
“At least two classrooms would be cut–that’s at least 36 families that would not be able to provide the support, and that’s just in one county,” said Head Start teacher Kate Ascetta.
Sequoia’s grandmother taught at Head Start for years and says it helps combat problems early on.
“It’s a big ounce of prevention. I just want my grandkids to be able to grow up safe and in as good of society as we can make happen,” said former Head Start teacher Alison Halderman.
DeFazio’s office issued a statement in response to the protest saying, “I oppose the budget control act, and I oppose the across the board 8.2 percent spending cuts imposed by sequestration that began on March 1, 2013.”
So for now, Head Start will continue spreading awareness of their impact on the community.
“If a family is involved in their child’s education and their child has strong attendance early on it’s almost a sure success that they will do well in school,” said Head Start teacher Doe Chasco.
DeFazio also says Congress could quickly reverse these cuts, and prevent cuts to programs like Head Start, but Republicans and Democrats have not yet settled on a compromise.
For now, Head Start is preparing for the cuts.