Baton Rouge area Head Start avoids being hit by funding cuts, start school year later

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POSTED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 7:30pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 10:16am

Close to 1,400 children in Louisiana will be cut off from their Head Start programs this school year. In East Baton Rouge Parish, there will be no interruption in services, but it's been a struggle to make sure the children here get what they need.

Going to school full time and still holding down a job would have been impossible for Yvette Self if it weren't for the help of the Head Start program.

"I wouldn't have been able to come back to school like I did, working part time, without him being in head start because day care is very expensive. It’s very expensive and it limits me," explained Self.

Her four year old son, Daniel, was able to attend a Head Start program last year while she continued her education, something that was good for both of them.

"He was kind of shy when he first started, but it helped him along the way with being shy and communicating with the teachers, it was really lovely," shared Self.

But an estimated 1,400 children in Louisiana are losing those early education opportunities.

"A lot of programs have completely shut down. They’ve had to reduce enrollment and reduce the number of days," explained Paula Roddy, Director of the EBR Head Start programs.

The programs in East Baton Rouge parish are no different when it comes to cuts. Roddy and her staff were informed in March that they would be experiencing a 5% cut across the board. But by starting their school year later and tapping in to local dollars the EBR head start will avoid cuts this year.

"The mayor said, ‘we're going to find the money, Head Start is going to be fine.’ He's committed to this program and I know he is because he's always supported us," Roddy explained.

It’s something Yvette Self said is vital for her son, and other children like him.

"It’s very important for single parents and parents who are limited on funds, and also for the kids. It gives the kids a very good experience," said Self.

Roddy said they'll be able to also keep all of their students next year through the same formula, after that they will have to find some more funding sources. The East Baton Rouge area Head Starts had to make up more than $500,000 in cuts.

Roddy explained that close to $400,000 in cuts were made up with funds from the city-parish, the rest was made up by attrition and starting the school year later.

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