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Mar 2, 2013 1:32 AM by Nathan O'Neal

'Sequester' cuts loom for Head Start program

TUCSON - The impact of the automatic federal cuts known as the "sequestration" is far-reaching, including everything from research at universities to programs for children who fall below the poverty line.

Congressman Raul Grijalva spoke with Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild on Friday, expressing how real the effects of the sequestration is on southern Arizona.

"That research scientist is in the same line as that mom who's trying to get her kid into Headstart. They're both not going to get it," Grijalva said while criticizing Congress' inaction.

Headstart in southern Arizona is just one area facing up to $1.2 million in budget cuts, something child advocates say acts like a second blow to an already suffering education system.

"When you look at education in Arizona, we're already one of the poorest funded states in the union so i you take out Headstart services...it really futher hurts Arizona," said Maggie Molloy, the Executive Director for Child Parent Centers.

Experts say the cuts will hurt children and their famlies the most, something Annabelle Hernandez understands, having gone through the Headstart program herself and her daughter in Headstart as well.

"They're ready when they get to Kindergarten... I see a lot of students in her classroom right now who struggle to even write their name," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the program also helps parents develop their role in their child's education.

"Headstart as a parent... it taught me to advocate for my daughter and to be a strong parent," Hernandez said.

For the strong supporters of the childrens' program, the mere thought of cutting children from the program itself is unthinkable.

"It's just unprecedented and I would say I'm in a little bit of denial still," Molloy said, adding: "And really feeling like the will is going to be there on the part of the community to not have this happen."

Considering the way the program's funding cycle runs, Headstart won't have to cut kids form the program until at least September. However, the hope is that lawmakers will have sorted something to prevent the cuts before then.

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