EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) - A protest was held in Eugene Friday hoping to convince Federal lawmakers to stop major budget cuts for one of the country’s largest early childhood education and daycare programs.
More than 1,000 children are in Lane County’s Head Start program. Nearly all are age five or younger and receive daycare, education and food while their low-income Moms and Dads learn parenting and nutrition skills.
Many parents consider the program to be a lifeline resource. However, it is facing huge cuts. Sequestration could force Head Start programs across the nation to kick 70,000 kids out of their classrooms.
Fighting back against the cuts, about a dozens parents, kids and teachers with ties to Lane County Head Start programs protested in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Eugene on Friday.
Aloma Murray is a parent with a daughter in a Eugene-area Head Start program. She worries about being cut from the program.
“I feel like it could really put her behind in getting ready for kindergarten next year. It [the Head Start program] helps kids with reading and writing but also the routine of school,” said Murray.
Program coordinators say that Head Start helps struggling families succeed.
"Breaking down those barriers for families and children [who] are going through obstacles and other things that are going to prevent them potentially from being successful or more successful later in life,” said Kate Ascetta, Regional Manager for Head Start of Lane County.
Representative Peter DeFazio’s office released a statement on Friday afternoon, saying the U.S. Congressman is against the Budget Control Act, which is what spawned thesequestration cuts.
At this point, it's unclear how Head Start of Lane County will be affected. It will likely have to cut dozens of children from the program.