Federal budget cuts are the cause for some unfortunate changes to the Green Hills Head Start program.
Green Hills Head Start, which serves the Missouri counties of Caldwell, Daviess, Grundy, Harrison, Linn, Livingston, Mercer, Putnam and Sullivan, has been forced to budget with a 5.27 percent reduction in federal funds. This decrease has forced Green Hills to eliminate 40 slots, around 20 from the attendance centers and 20 from home-based care. Beverly Hooker, Green Hills Head Start director, said these budget cuts will have the largest effect on Grundy County, by closing one of the two attendance center in Trenton.
"That's 18-20 kids right there," Hooker explained. "We've also consolidated home-based services in Grundy/Daviess and Mercer counties, with a loss of 20 students in those consolidation efforts."
With the elimination of a center in Trenton, Green Hills now operates nine centers in the nine-county region: two in Brookfield, two in Chillicothe, and one in Bethany, Hamilton, Milan, Trenton and Unionville.
The decreased funding also forces Green Hills to eliminate six employee positions. Three of those positions come from employees who have retired from one of the sites in Trenton.
Green Hills Head Start's home-based program will also take a hit. Previously, there had been two home-based visitors for the Daviess/Grundy and Harrison/Mercer areas. There will now be a total of six visitors serving eight counties. The breakdown of visitors is as follows: Caldwell, Daviess/Grundy, Harrison/Mercer, Linn, Livingston and Sullivan. Putnam County does not have a home-based visitor.
At this time, Livingston County will see no changes due to federal budget cuts. Chillicothe will retain its two attendance centers, and the county will retain its one home-based visitor.
Hooker said despite the decrease in federal funds, Green Hills will continue to put the focus on quality.
"The whole reduction plan has not been anything that we would have chosen, but we will do what we must do," Hooker said. "Head Start was generated from the war on poverty program in the '60s to help disadvantaged families start public school on an even level with those who were not disadvantaged. We have succeeded in that, and quality will remain our primary goal."