Cicero (WSYR-TV) - The effects of the national sequester cuts are just now beginning to hit home for some of Central New York’s most vulnerable people.
The Head State Program will lose more than $800,000 under the sequester funding cuts.
As a result, Head Start will close its Cicero branch and cancel its summer school and the 33 students who rely on the program to prepare for the school year will not be able to use it next year.
“These are youngsters who are going to become tax paying citizens – be productive if they have the Head Start experience. It's too bad because it's a very important program - it's really been vital to their future, it gives them a shot at success,” said Peace Inc. Executive Director Joseph O’Hara.
For months, Peace Incorporated has been trying to figure out the a way to implement the cut in funding that would affect the least amount of students. Though the Cicero branch has the largest geographical reach, O'Hara says it is the most expensive to operate.
17 of the kids who play at the Cicero facility will be relocated to Head Start centers. But the other classes will close over the next few weeks and will not reopen in the fall.
Along with closing the Cicero site, there will be eight layoffs, no summer school, and a consolidation of classrooms at other sites next year.
“When you have to manage a $800,000 cut for a program, you can't just nibble around the edges. You have to go in and it takes a real human toll, a real social toll, and a real economic toll,” O’Hara said.
Other Peace Incorporated programs are taking a big financial hit too - like the local Big Brother/Big Sister and the Energy and Housing programs.
In all, it's a $1.6 million loss that many are hoping will be restored by Congress.
Head Start families are asking for help to restore funding. Anyone interested in writing a letter to their representative to end sequestration cuts should visit the Head Start website