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Responding to Head Start Cuts

October 11, 2013


Local Head Start programs, which offer free preschool to low-income families, have been required to reduce their program spending 5.7 percent this year due to Federal budget cuts. It means many children are no longer eligible.  The scheduled 10 year sequestration also means further cuts are possible in the future.  How will this affect your family, and what can you do?  Read on.

Impact of Head Start Cuts on California families

In California 5,611 fewer children will be served this year as well including cuts to transportation and closed centers.  Head Start centers have been given the choice as to how to make reductions, so program changes will vary by location.  To find your local Head Start and contact information use the following interactive map:

Help paying for childcare – Child Care Payment Programs

If  you find Head Start is not available to your child, California has some options to assist low-income families with childcare and preschool costs.

Alternative Payment Programs (AP) is funded through the California Department of Education.  Other funding is available through Welfare Departments in each county.  These funds originate from the California Department of Social Services and depend upon income, family size and the county in which you live.

To locate payment programs in each county, contact the local childcare resource and referral program.  To find the R&R that serves your community call 1-800-KIDS-793 or (415) 882-0234.

Actions you can take now:

  • Download a toolkit and begin a $2 Per Child Campaign at your local Head Start to raise funds for advocacy and education efforts for the statewide program here:
  • Write a letter to the President or Members of Congress
  • Use social media

Twitter feed suggestions:

“.@[Member of  Congress] The #sequester slams shut the window of opportunity for thousands of at-risk children in CA alone.”


“Budget cuts from #sequester are a missed opportunity for @[Member of Congress] to lead by example, #Head Start places vulnerable children on pathway to lifelong success.”


Post on Members of Congress’ Facebook Page

“Head Start programs are facing devastating budget cuts that will slam shut the window of opportunity for nearly 70,000 at-risk children. Because of these sequester cuts, 5,611 fewer children can be served by Head Start here in CA. We can’t balance budgets on the backs of poor children.”

Write a Letter to Your Local Paper Condemning Cuts

State Preschool Programs

State preschool programs will be expanding this year, and though not identical to Head start (classes are only half day), they form another low-cost option.  Families that qualify for state subsidized preschool will be subject to a sliding scale of fees based upon family size and gross monthly income. For example, a family of four must have a monthly income equal to or less than $3,908.  The following link contains the Fee Table: