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100+ Students To Lose Service, Two Head Start Centers Close

6:20 PM, Aug 23, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC - The "ifs" threatened during sequestration negotiations are now a reality in Guilford County and this time it affects children.

The federal government released numbers Monday outlining the depth of cuts for various agencies. Head Start lost $400 million of their $8 billion budget.

In North Carolina, more than $9 million was slashed. That means 1,300 children will lose this service.

Guilford County's Head Start lost nearly half-a-million dollars and will have to cut service for 108 children. Teacher's hours were also cut and now, two Head Start learning centers are closing.

"This is the largest cut we've ever experienced. I've been here 15 years and we've never had a cut of this magnitude," said Robin Britt, Executive Director, Guilford Child Development.

Cuts from the sequester forced Guilford County to close Daniel Brooks Head Start Center in High Point and the Metropolitan Head Start Center in Greensboro.

"We cannot recapture these years for these young children. You can't do it," explained Britt.

He added, "That's the tragedy of this, we can absorb, we can absorb a reduction in salary but we can't replace those kids that won't get these services."

"It's needed in our community."

Rachida Nabngui
's two children will still be in Head Start program next year.

"I could not imagine what it would be if my children were out of this school," explained Nabngui.

When Nabngui's four-year-old son started the program, he couldn't speak.

"I didn't understand at all what he needed."

Her son has a hearing problem that was discovered by therapists at Head Start. They offered him speech therapy and now he has hearing aids.

"I can't make him stop talking! He's talking, talking, talking he's learning, he knows all his alphabet, his colors, his shapes, he's very smart and I'm very grateful to the Head Start program," said Nabngui.

Nearly 1200 families like Nabngui's were served last year in Guilford County. To qualify for Head Start, your income has to be below the poverty line. That means for most of the children, this is their only option.

"We don't have the money to qualify and go pay for a daycare. It's like $160, $140 a week. Which, we can't even have," said Nabngui.  
"This is very important work and it important for congress and the community to understand its dimensions," added Britt.

Britt says they will likely have to close another center because of state cuts. If they do, it would be the Hickory Chapel Woods center in High Point.

Guilford County isn't the only one in the Triad impacted by these cuts. Head Start programs in Rockingham and Forsyth also had to make changes.

Rockingham County had to eliminate one classroom. That means 18 children will lose this service. Last year, Rockingham County
's Head Start program served 252 children.  They also had to lay off one teacher.

Forsyth County's Head Start program lost $214,000 but was able to maintain the amount of students they serve because of a partnership with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

READ: Head Start Hit With Worst Cuts In Its History  

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