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More than 57,000 kids cut from Head Start because of sequester

More than 57,000 children this fall will be cut from Head Start, the program for pre-school age children from low-income families, because of the ongoing "sequestration" budget cuts, the Obama administration announced Monday.

Head Start and Early Head Start saw a 5.27 percent reduction in its $8 billion budget after Congress this March enacted the sequester -- $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts to federal spending over 10 years.

Administered by the Health and Human Services Department, Head Start awards grants to public and private institutions on a competitive basis to provide pre-school services in their communities. The program serves more than one million children every year in every U.S. state and territory.

So far, the impact of sequestration is not as drastic as anticipated -- the Obama administration originally estimated it would mean having to cut 70,000 students from the program.

Nevertheless, 51,299 fewer children will be enrolled in Head Start, while 5,966 fewer children will be enrolled in Early Head Start. The Office of Head Start reported the data after collecting reduction plans from individual Head Start grantees. California will see the largest number of students affected, with 5,611 children cut, while Texas will have to cut 4,410.

The office also reported that there will be 1,342,015 fewer days of service nationwide, and at least 18,000 staff members will be affected, either through pay cuts or job losses.

When Congress returns from its five-week summer recess, sequestration will be just one of the many pressing budget issues it will have to address. So far, it doesn't appear that lawmakers have a plan for repealing or replacing the sequester, which slashed $85 billion from the budget this year.

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