Letters to the Editor, May 1, 2013
Austerity has its price
EDITOR: I'm writing to make sure your readers are aware of the affect of the Sequester is having on the early childhood community, specifically Bradford-Tioga Head Start (BTHS). I have worked professionally and as a volunteer with this organization for over 10 years.
BTHS has excellent leadership including Director Jody Thomas and Assistant Director Wendy Swingle; and operates 22 centers in Bradford and Tioga counties. While serving low-income families in our region they have helped thousands of our most-challenged children and have been recognized for excellence by Pennsylvania Head Start. As a result her work, Jody was called to Washington D.C. to testify a few years ago. Research has shown that quality early childhood education brings long-term benefits to the children and BTHS has consistently provided this quality.
When Congress allowed the Sequester to take effect, the BTHS operating budget (and Head Starts nationwide) was automatically slashed by 5 percent. This $150,000 cut to BTHS covers the December 2012 to November 2013 fiscal year, so several months slipped by before the cuts were announced! Cutting days of service not only cuts the benefits to children, but also reduces income of the teaching staff and the possibility of fewer jobs. Cutting down on transportation increases pressure on parents and typically reduces the number of children able to attend the centers. Many difficult steps are being forced on BTHS. I fear the sequester will cost the taxpayers later-on for the following reasons.
Research has consistently shown that children who benefit from quality early childhood education will be more apt to hold a job and less likely to spend time in jail, less likely to be a teenage parent, etc., etc. By helping our most challenged children to get a "Head Start" leads to less public funds spent in the future. By reducing our investment in this wonderful program will cost the taxpayer much more that the apparent savings in the coming decades.
Please encourage your U.S. Senators and Representatives to provide more thoughtful solutions than just cutting program across-the-board. It feels like "my way only" political stances are costing the U.S. citizens in more ways than we realize.
EDITOR: Once more I take my place in front of my computer to remark about the muffler-less vehicles which drive through the borough of Rome - and other communities, I am sure, at much more than the 35 mph speed limit posted. We do not have the funds to pay for a police officer, and the state police undoubtedly have more serious things to do. I am seeing dead birds along the route I walk on Route 187. Hopefully there will not be human fatalities as a result of this disregard for the law in our Commonwealth.