Child care would feel budget cuts

Leaders in Washington are still battling over automatic budget cuts slated to take effect Friday.

The cutbacks are about bringing government spending under control, but the way some of those cuts will be felt is personal.

In Rhode Island, 2,500 children ages 3, 4, and 5 attend Head Start, where they get instruction and meals. The cuts will start on May 1, and 80 children will be denied Head Start services by the end of the year if the cuts stay in effect.

"They are forgetting the human face of this. I think they are looking at it from ideology, from politics," said David Caprio, president of Children's Friend.

Caprio said politicians need to consider what should be trimmed and not just let an arbitrary number be slashed from all federal programs across the board.

"For the president and Congress to come together and say, 'These are our priorities. Yes, we cannot fund everything, but these are the priorities of our nation and this is what we will fund,'" Caprio said.

Head Start and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition plan are funded almost entirely with federal dollars. And it's not just children who benefit. Their parents get freedom to work.

"I work as a certified nursing assistant, and my wife coordinates CNAs at home through health care. I'd be running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to figure out what I'm going to do to keep my job," said Joe Sadlier.

The cuts won't begin Friday. The funding cycle restarts May 1. But administrators are worried that the posturing in Washington will overlook the real costs of indiscriminate cutting.

"It is kids who will be denied access to educational services like Head Start. It's children and pregnant moms who will lose access to WIC benefits. These are real human costs," Caprio said.

Rhode Island's Head Start program runs on $22 million of federal funds. The state contribution is $1 million. It's one of the programs most directly affected by federal cuts.