Head Start programs in and around Lubbock County will soon be a bit emptier.
Nearly 100 enrollment spots are being cut from Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Lubbock and 11 other surrounding counties. Due to federal spending cuts caused by the Sequester, national Head Start enrollment has been slashed by 57,000.
"It really upsets me," says Viola Olivares, whose children have been through the Head Start program. "And I know it upsets a lot of the parents and foster parents that I know that have little ones that should be in school. With all of these cuts we're getting, a lot of our children are not going to go to school."
Head Start programs provide crucial early childhood education to low income families who otherwise might not be able to afford it.
"The early years are so important, and we serve children in the first three years - everything happens in the first three years," according to Stephanie Shine at the Texas Tech Early Head Start. "Children's brains develop, they learn to walk they learn to talk, they learn to express their emotions, to solve problems, they learn to make friends...so, it's a really important time."
ACCORDING TO STEPHANIE SHINE OF THE TEXAS TECH *EARLY* HEAD START PROGRAM, THESE CUTS IN ENROLLMENT ARE DAMAGING FOR BOTH PARENTS - AND THE GREATER COMMUNITY.
Shine says these cuts in enrollment are damaging for families, as well as the greater community.
"We all live in a village together. So the better off children are, the better they do when they're young, and the better they do in school. The better they do in school, the better they do when they graduate. The better they do when they graduate, the more they can contribute to the community," says Shine. "So, its a very clear investment in the community when you invest in children."