Sequester Cuts Reduce Services for 48 children and Eliminates 4 jobs

posted 4/17/13 -- Lorain County Community Action Agency (LCCAA) announced today that it is beginning to implement Sequester cuts. The reduction in Head Start funding has created permanent layoffs for four employees in the Head Start Home Base program which serves 48 children. 

“As of September, we are discontinuing the home base option in the Head Start program,” reports Jackie Boehnlein, President & CEO. “Home base offers and supports comprehensive services to children and their families through weekly home visits and group socializations and will be greatly missed,” Boehnlein adds.

In weighing all the options, it was determined that home base services for preschoolers, while vital and responsive to local need, are relatively expensive. When looked at in terms of cost per hour of instruction, each home visitor working forty hours will see twelve children once a week for one hour each. A center-based teacher working forty hours, by comparison, will instruct between 20 and 34 students four days per week for a minimum of 3.5 hours each day. “It came down to preserving services that offer more teaching time for children,” states Shauna Matelski, Head Start Director. “I believe in the home base option and regret that funding does not allow us to continue offering home visits throughout the county,” Matelski reports.

The home base option for Early Head Start, which serves pregnant women, infants and toddlers, will continue. The Early Head Start Home Base program is funded to serve 16 families. Staffing restructuring is allowing the Early Head Start home base option to stay in full operation next school year. The restructuring puts all home visitor positions as part-time without medical and other fringe benefits.

Both the Head Start and Early Head Start programs will need to make additional cuts to comply with Sequestration. Those decisions are still being finalized but will likely mean fewer days of instruction. As such, remaining staff will see extended layoffs or furloughs.

“Our charge is to eliminate $319,472 in expenditures in Head Start and another $23,500 in Early Head Start,” Boehnlein states. “When you say 5% it sounds like a manageable sum, and in the much larger picture it is. At the daily operational level, however, the blow to the community is visible. We are happy to serve with the other 95%, but no cut comes without a price. Fewer children prepared to succeed in school and the loss of jobs and benefits weakens our already struggling community,” says Boehnlein.