Program cuts to affect hundreds of toddlers

CARLSBAD, Calif. – The wave of sequestration cuts has hit San Diego’s Head Start, which provides childcare free of cost for thousands of needy families across the county.

Nearly $1.1 million will be cut from Head Start’s $20 million annual budget. The first center to be impacted by the sequester cuts is in North County.

Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 8.24.31 PM“This is a huge hit for families who depend on us to make ends meet,” said MAAC Head Start Director in North County Alethea Arguilez. “We’re considering how many layoffs and which locations may have to close.”

Head Start Centers serve 10,000 children between the ages of 3 to 5 year olds throughout the county. Next month, 300 children are projected to be dropped off the program.

Program officials said Head Start centers also provide as many as three meals to the children it serves.

“Because a lot of these children may not have enough food at home,” said Carlsbad Head Start Center Director Cheiko Lee.

Many parents say they don’t know what they’ll do if their little ones are cut off the program.

“Families are struggling to pay their rent. Imagine paying for child care,” said a woman dropping of her grandchild at a Head Start Center in Carlsbad.

“It would be devastating to me, I’m a full time working mom,” said Susan Boles, mother of four living in Carlsbad.

The second round of cuts are expected in the summer months.