Lynchburg Head Start Program Leaders Find Out About Cuts

Lynchburg, VA - It's still fuzzy how big an impact sequestration could have here at home, but at least one organization - Head Start - got a slightly clearer picture Friday of what these budget cuts could mean for them.

Before Friday's conference call, the folks running Head Start say they were "in the dark" and "didn't have a clue" what sequestration could do to Head Starts like this one.

Leaders say 452 kids 3 to 4 years old in our hometown rely on Head Start for preschool. Without it, many would start kindergarten already behind.

That's something Dorothy Holmes knows well. She oversees 12 Head Start programs.

"We are going to come up with something, so our program can continue to exist," she said.

For weeks, she's heard about sequestration but was never told what it would mean for her until now.

In the conference phone call from Head Start in Washington D.C., they were told that Head Start 2013 grants will be reduced by approximately 5%, which could mean changing the school calendar.

Sequestration is a challenge, but now there's at least some clarity.

"At first we did not have an idea what to expect. At least now we have some idea of what we're going to be expecting," said Holmes.

Marie Martin is the director of United Way of Central Virginia. She works with Head Start and dozens of other nonprofits that are still in the dark on sequestration.

"We're not sure what's going to happen," said Martin. "I think there's been a major concern as to what could happen to some of the programs that we fund, but I think it's just kind of a wait and see for most of us."

Head Start can't afford to wait and see. They're already thinking up ideas like cheaper field trips to keep all the kids in preschool.

"We have to be creative, but it's doable, it's doable, especially if we have community help," said Holmes.

Holmes encourages the community to learn more about these Head Start preschools, saying it takes a village to raise our children. They're always looking for individual donations.