Because much of the Head Start harm caused by sequestration lies in what won't happen (a child who could have been enrolled, money spent on day care that could have been spent elsewhere, etc.), assessing the overall damage is a difficult task. But one place to start is by observing local news coverage, which provides a daily drip of depressing developments. In a two-week period this June, it was announced that Head Start was eliminating staff positions and student spots in Cincinnati, Hannibal, Mo., Hennepin County, Minn., Cullman County, Ala., Cicero, N.Y., and elsewhere.Sequestration keeps hurting people, even as congressional Republicans seem to have decided that, now that they've made sure business travelers won't be inconvenienced, it's a great thing. When one mother whose daughter's Head Start program had been closed asked her congressman, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), about restoring funding to the program:
Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association, said that her group anticipates 65,000 fewer slots for children and 11,500 Head Start jobs being lost nationally. The impact on the Head Start community, she said, has been demoralizing, so much so that the association has begun running a mental health webinar to help with depression among Head Start staff.
Current spending on Head Start "will probably be about the same ... in 2014, or pretty close to that," the congressman replied, according to a transcript provided by his office. "It won't be any more than that. The chances of us appropriating more money for that is almost zero."Which she's trying to do. But that's not exactly easy for an unemployed widowed mother of a small child. And it's precisely because those are the kind of people that Head Start serves that Republicans like Pompeo aren't concerned about funding the program. No big donors are going to be personally hurt by Head Start cuts. But the failure to invest in kids—that's something that hurts our entire society.
Pompeo encouraged Reynolds to try to raise the money herself.