Sequester cuts force JeffCo Headstart program to close for 10 we - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Sequester cuts force JeffCo Headstart program to close for 10 weeks

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More than 200 low-income Jefferson County families will soon have to find a new childcare facility temporarily.

Birmingham's head start agency, Jefferson County Child Development Council announced Tuesday it will close for 10 weeks due to the federal sequestration.

The agency's Interim Executive Director Bobby Griffin says the agency was told by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services it had to make a 5.1 % reduction to its budget.

Griffin says the Executive Board, staff and policy council members decided the best way to implement a reduction without cutting the number of children in the program or laying off staff, was to reduce the number of service days.

To do that, starting May 31 to August 19 services will cease.

Ashley Ruffin is a parent of child in the program. She says summer closure will be a hardship her family.

"As a parent what do you expect me to do with my child for 10 weeks? You know, he's in a learning environment. I don't want to have him go somewhere for 10 weeks, where he is not learning," Ruffin said.

JCCDC provides 276 children with free home based daycare through its contracted daycare providers.

Griffin says the agency's roughly 36 providers will go without pay during the two month closure. He says that's the same time their contracts end. 

Only in heading the agency for a week new Executive Director Cassie Harris said the program learned HHS in the beginning of the year reductions would be have to be made. Harris says while there federally funding budget remains the same, costs are increasing.

"Every year the cost of utilities, health insurance, other things go up.  So we really need to make a cut that will be a little more than just 5%. And when I get to thinking about how the families feel I know that it is a difficult time for them," Harris said.

JCCDC's staff will also be furloughed for 8 weeks.

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