Early Learning a Casualty of Cuts

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By: Mike Vasilinda

Early learning centers across Florida are bracing for a twenty four million dollar cut to programs that serve primarily disadvantaged communities and prepare children for school. The cuts in one – three county region will mean few learning opportunities.

Kids, Inc. runs six early learning centers in three north Florida counties. As negotiations were breaking down in Washington, Judie Miller was talking with a parent, discussing options as the program braces for a ten percent cut.

Fewer hours of early learning mean fewer options for new mom, Claretta Domingos. “Probably prevent a job as far as me getting a job sooner. And it will probably limit a lot of the curriculum exposure that my son gets here already.”, says Domingos.

The ratio in this class room is one teacher for every four students. Staff is by far the biggest line item in the program’s budget. “Worst case scenario would be we would have to close a center and that would put a minimum of 24 families to 60 families depending upon which center would be closed.”, says Judie Miller, Kids Inc.

Reporter: “And 15 staff members.”

Judie Miller: “And 15 staff members.”

Nationwide seventy thousand kids are going to be cut from readiness programs. The irony for this center, it already has more kids on the waiting list than the number of kids its serving.

And the kids who don’t develop learning skills early at this center will end up needing remediation once they get to kindergarten or first grade; creating a case of pay now or pay later.

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