Head Start programs on edge as federal sequestration takes hold

SEATTLE -- Head Start programs for low-income kids could soon be forced to make big cuts as federal sequestration takes hold, and that decision could affect scores of local children.

A number of children at Seattle's Denise Louie Education Center got a lesson in real-life politics on Monday.

"We already turn children away because we don't have enough space for them, so that's just going to be more children we have to turn away," said center director Janice Deguchi.

Children at the center fall below the poverty line, and now they're being caught up in a national debate. Their Head Start program could be forced to cut five percent of its budget -- which equates to four staff members -- due to sequestration.

After reading a story to the kids on Monday, Washington Sen. Patty Murray told a different tale -- one where she blames partisan politics for the stalemate that lead to the cuts.

"There are members of the House who believe that cutting government at whatever cost and however it happens is better than putting any revenue on the table, which is why we are here today," Murray said.

If the cuts do happen, parents like Guyanthony Paramore worry their kids won't get the free meals and early education they need.

"It's not effecting big businesses. It's children like this," Paramore said of his daughter. "She had teachers there who she loved. It was amazing."

With teacher jobs on the line and budget cuts looming, the director fears some kids could be turned away.

"We're concerned about how many children that are out there, waiting for our services, that are not going to be able to access if we have to cut children and cut slots," Deguchi said.

A total of $406 million is expected to be cut from Head Start programs around the country. If that happens, about 70,000 kids could be kicked out of the program.