Callaway’s Early Head Start unaffected by state budget cuts

Children wash up before snack time at Fulton’s Head Start childcare location. Officials say that Early Head Start in Callaway County will not be affected by drastic budget cuts recently put in force by state lawmakers.

Children wash up before snack time at Fulton’s Head Start childcare location. Officials say that Early Head Start in Callaway County will not be affected by drastic budget cuts recently put in force by state lawmakers. Photo by Dean Asher.

Callaway County’s Early Head Start program is not to be affected by the sweeping budget cuts announced by Missouri Senate earlier this month, according to Mernell King, early childhood programs director with Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA).

During the last week of the 2012 legislative session, the Senate submitted a budget with sharp cuts, rejecting a budget plan offered by Jay Nixon and the House of Representatives that held few cuts and relied on an amnesty program for delinquent taxpayers for funding. One such program to see cuts was Early Head Start, which provides free prenatal assistance and works toward the healthy development of children ages 3 and under, to eight counties in the mid-Missouri area. The program saw its budget cut nearly in half, down to $2.65 million from $5.67 million.

CMCA provides services under the Early Head Start program to eight counties in the mid-Missouri area, but of those, six rely on a federal budget. King said only Boone and Cole counties drew from state funding and will see cuts to the number of children and families that will be able to receive free care beginning July 1.

“It affects not only us, but also the partners we’re partnering with,” said King. “For our area we had 32 Early Head Start slots; that will be reduced to 14. I’d love to be able to tell you where those are going to be, but the truth is we’re contacting providers to see if they’ll be willing to work with limited slots, and that’s where we’re at.”

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