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Fiscal Cliff Could Impact Local Programs

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While our country’s leaders try and figure out a budget, many federally funded agencies are worried for fiscal cliff cuts that could impact programs in the Quad Cities.

"Ideally we would like to see the fiscal cliff not happen, just for the simple fact that it would really play an impact not only on our program but in other agencies,” says Nicole Berry, Head Start director for Rock Island and Milan school districts.

Head Start is just one of the federally funded programs that are worried about their funds getting cut.

"Currently right now we service 317 students within the Rock Island/Milan school district. And we are fully staffed,” says Berry.

Head start teaches ages three to four years old and helps prepare them for kindergarten.

"We focus on their social and emotional development to get them ready for school. They need to learn how to get along with each other, cooperate,” says teacher Denise Lakwa.

If the program does have to face the 8.2% cut, Berry is already looking at what they would trim, "Whether it would be staff reductions, reducing of children within the program, but we don't have anything definite."

She says they have already had to make cut backs, "It's definitely been challenging to try to cut back in some areas, but definitely this is something we have to look a little bit more harshly at to decide where we would go."

If cuts do happen, Head Start is worried about the kind of education they will be able to provide.

"What worries me the most is just being able to make sure that we're able to maintain a quality program,” says Berry.

"We need to keep Head Start here for the children.  It's very important to them as well as their families,” says Lakwa.

Some other agencies that might be impacted are Meals for Wheels and low income housing programs.