SANTA MARIA - Several lucky young children sit down to lunch at the Head Start Center in Santa Maria.
They are lucky because they have a clean, safe place to play and eat nutritious meals in a federally-funded Head Start day care center.
"We have over 1200 children on our waiting list just to get into the program", says Santa Maria Head Start Site Supervisor Stacey Lara, "Head Start supports the whole family and I think that is one of the reasons why we've been successful."
Head Start is for homeless children, children born into financial hardship or abusive and neglectful families as well as for pregnant women.
The mission of Head Start is to help lay the foundation for self-sufficiency.
"I had one mother recently tell me without our program, she couldn't have gone on to get a degree in the medical field, she's doing medical assisting", Lara says.
With as much as 80 percent of the money that pays for Head Start coming from the federal government, sequestration could bring painful cuts.
"If the sequester happens anywhere from 50 to 100 of our children will lose services", Lara says, "for many of those children, especially those children that are homeless, they will be out, I have several students that come and stay in the park."
It's estimated as many as 70,000 low-income, at-risk children across the country will be shut out from Head Start programs with $400 million in sequestration cuts including as many 8,000 children in California.
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