U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today visited St. Jerome's Head Start program in Baltimore City to highlight what significant cuts to funding for the Head Start program would mean to Maryland children and families.
Republicans have called for cutting $1 billion from the Head Start program nationwide, which would reduce funding for Maryland's Head Start program by $12.2 million. Such a budget cut would kick more than 2,300 Maryland children out of the program that prepares preschool-age children for success in school. It also would mean a loss of 512 teaching jobs. Currently, Head Start serves 12,134 Maryland children a year.
"Multiple studies show that the Head Start program has been one of our nation's biggest successes in preparing young children for school and later achievement," said Senator Cardin. "Cuts to Head Start deprive low-income children of a structured learning environment and hurt working parents who want the best for their children. It also hurts our nation by removing an important educational tool for future success."
"We need a more frugal government, but extreme funding cuts proposed by Republicans amount to a war on women and children. Cutting $12.2 million dollars from Maryland's Head Start means more than 2,300 children will be kicked out and more than 500 Marylanders will lose their jobs," Senator Mikulski said. "Head Start helps the children who are most in need to keep up with their age group in school. It brings children to the doctor to get immunizations or hearing checks. It provides nutritious meals for children who might otherwise go hungry. I'm a social worker. I've seen firsthand children whose lives were changed by a simple hearing aid. It can make all the difference. I'm for cutting the deficit, but I'm not willing to risk the health and safety of women and children to do it."
"If our elected officials decide to cut Head Start funding, it will mean more than 2,300 Maryland children and their families will lose access to Head Start services, more than 500 jobs will be lost, and at least 170 classrooms will be left empty. At the end of the day, Congress needs to realize that Head Start results extend far beyond the classroom and also lead to a safer, more advanced and more economically stable America," said Mary Gunning, Director of St. Jerome's Head Start.
The Head Start program was created in 1965 and it provides comprehensive child development, educational, health and nutrition services to economically disadvantaged children and families with a special focus on pre-school reading and math skills. Research shows that Head Start programs work. Low-income children who attend the program make significant gains in vocabulary, writing and letter recognition, and they have access to health care. These children arrive at school prepared to do better academically than children not enrolled in the program.