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Head Start Benefits From State Response To Sequestration

Gwendolyn Glenn

The state’s Head Start program got a much needed funding boost yesterday. State officials approved $4.1 million for Head Start, making up for the $5 million in federal dollars lost this school year under automatic cuts known as "sequestration."

Linda Zang, who oversees Head Start for the state education department, says the new funding is significant. "Approximately 82 percent was restored from the original sequester reduction," she said. "Many classrooms that would start in the fall were not going to be started. Children who were eligible to attend Head Start programs, there was not going to be space available for them."

Statewide, about 500 additional children will be able to attend Head Start due to the new state funds. Officials in Baltimore city and the county hope to reinstate the 50 Head Start slots they lost under sequestration. The state money will also be used to rehire some staff whose positions were eliminated or downsized.

State officials approved $9 million in funds for critical needs programs and services that were affected by sequestration. This money comes out of a $100 million reserve fund created during this year's General Assembly session. Because of the new state funds, an estimated 3,000 additional older adults will be able to participate in the state’s Meals on Wheels program; 200 seniors will benefit from the new funding for home and adult day care; health screenings will be made available to 2,500 seniors and approximately 3,000 state residents will receive substance abuse and treatment and services through the new state dollars.  The state money will also be used to fund vocational rehabilitation services, job placement and training assistance for 7,000 Maryland residents and adult education classes for 800 students.