Deadline day in Wash. may mean funding cuts to local schools


It's deadline day in Washington, where President Barack Obama will meet with top congressional leaders to look for ways to avoid $85 billion in automatic budget cuts.

If a deal isn't reached, the budget sequestration would eliminate millions of dollars in funding for Florida schools and Head Start programs.

Head Start began 40 years ago to give children in low-income neighborhoods the same opportunities as children in middle class neighborhoods, from education to health care.

WFTV reporter Lori Brown found out Head Start program leaders vow not to turn any children away.

In Orange County, there were 1,536 children in the program.

Even though their parents cannot afford pricey day cares, the children at Head Start are already learning their alphabet and how to count.

"It's amazing, listening to him develop so much in the few months he's been in school," said parent Brittany Miller.

"It supports the family in helping them understand they are their child's first teachers," said Dr. Jacquelyn Jenkins of Orange County Head Start.

However, unless lawmakers act, there will be big funding cuts to Head Start programs.

According to the White House, services for 2,700 Florida children would have to be cut.

Jenkins said she won't let that happen here.

"This is our future that we are investing in," said Jenkins.

"There is no way we would be able to afford anything else," said Miller.

Jenkins said she hopes that community partners would step up to fill the potential $720,000 gap so children can keep attending Head Start.