According to the Michigan Head Start Association, it takes $262 million from the federal government to fund the educational program.
If sequestration cuts go through, the association estimates that 2,200 children who desperately need this program won't get the help they need. Four-year-old Makayla Garcia has attended preschool at Head Start for two years.
She has a form of Cerebral Palsy. That means she attends school, physical and speech therapy, all under one roof. Her family meets the poverty guidelines, so she gets all this help for free. Because of sequestration, Head Start is in danger of losing this critical funding from Washington.
â??It's been a really great support system for our family,â?? says Nicole Cook, Makaylaâ??s mom. â??We could all be losing that. So we would all be pretty sad."
If a deal isn't reached soon, the school and students, like Makayla, will be feeling the impact. The Escanaba Head Start director anticipates $150,000 could be cut from the program. In addition to staff cuts and fewer children that may be served, Makayla's pre-school year could end three to four weeks early. It's a five percent cut that could be permanent.
Head Start helps children up to five years old prepare for kindergarten. Without the program, their families wouldnâ??t have the means and resources to give them the preparation. Still, Makayla's mom says her daughter is prepared, even if she loses a few weeks of pre-k.
â??She's right on target. Weâ??ve always been nervous about that because she has special needs, and we didn't know if there'd be a huge impact between a typically-developing child and Makayla," Cook says.
For now, the public is waiting for the final results from Washington. Cook says without Head Start, she wouldn't be able to afford her daughter's education and therapies.