By Marcello Iaia
ALBANY COUNTY — Head Start programs at Berne-Knox-Westerlo and three other areas outside of Albany could lose funds next year for pre-school students in low-income families. The cuts are tied to a grant renewal affected by sequestration.
A council of parent representatives for the Albany Community Action Partnership voted for a proposal to cut its Head Start funding in Berne-Knox-Westerlo, Ravena, Cohoes, and Watervliet. ACAP has administered the federal grant money since 1966.
The ACAP Head Start program was reduced by about 77 slots down from nearly 500, in order to absorb the $232,000 taken from a $4.4 million grant for Albany County, said ACAP’s executive director, Kathleen Cloutier.
Head Start provides two meals a day, special-education services, parenting skills training, and medical and dental services for 3- and 4-year-olds and their low-income families. At BKW and other districts, Head Start programs are combined with Universal Pre-K classes that are not income-based and are funded separately through the State Education Department.
Cloutier said the decision to cut enrollment instead of hours was based on need and was suggested by the federal Office of Head Start. The highest numbers of children on waiting lists and living in poverty are near inner-city locations, she said.