KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Hundreds of local children won’t have the Head Start program as an option this year. They are victims of federal budget cuts.
Head Start helps low income families get access to services in Kansas City. Now, at least 200 fewer children will get help in the Kansas City Metro area.
Leaders at Head Start say this isn’t just affecting kids and families in the urban core. According to the Mid America Head Start Community Assessment, the poverty rate is increasing in Kansas City suburbs— areas that don’t have a lot of services for struggling families.
Lenora Johnson has two kids in the Head Start program at the YMCA at 51st and Cleveland. This year’s budget cuts left no room for her 5-year-old son who has been in the program for the last two years.
"It hurts, as a parent, to try to explain to your 5-year-old or your 4-year-old or your 3-year-old why they can't be in the program anymore," Johnson said.
Now, the Kansas City mom has to stay home to take care of her son, leaving only her husband’s income to feed their family of five. Johnson fears the future of her child is in jeopardy.
"With all of these cuts and everything that's going on their not realizing how bad it's affecting the community of a lot of children that attend this program," she said.
Johnson shares the dream of most parents. "I want him to be able to become and do anything that he sets his mind to do," she said.
For Johnson the future of her child affects the future of the community.
"Regardless, if your kid is not in this program our kids will still collaborate together and everyone needs an education,” she said. “It shouldn't just be about my kids or your kids. They're all of our kids. "
This is the first time the federal government cut funding to the Head Start program. Local program leaders say this move is unprecedented. Leaders are trying to figure out what to do next.
Right now, the local program is looking into addition funding through grants.
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