Following last week's announcement about the reorganization and possible budget cuts looming over the Central Missouri Community Action Head Start Program, a private organization has voiced an interest in helping CMCA in maintaining its current level of programming in Mexico.
Through the reorganization, CMCA Head Start is anticipated to cut 5.27 percent or nearly $300,000 of its $5.7M federal budget. The final amount of the funding reduction for Fiscal Year 2013 has not been determined, but on March 1 the Office of Head Start notified all grantees to expect reductions of approximately 5 percent for the remainder of the federal fiscal year.
Audrain County has three Head Start sites – the Community Early Learning in Laddonia, the Williams Family Support Center in Mexico and a prison program.
CMCA officials has not released the name of the organization interested in offering financial assistance to maintain the Mexico Head Start program, but according to Darin Preis, the executive director of the Columbia CMCA branch, the organization is "willing to fund approximately half of the cut if CMCA can come up with the other half."
"I don't know if it will be possible," Preis told The Mexico Ledger. "But I am hopeful we can avoid making cuts in Mexico. We would welcome additional partners to help us save Head Start in Mexico."
Staff considerations and program operation changes in Audrain County include:
• WFSC will be reduced by one classroom of part day slots. This will result in an RIF of one CFDA and will take place Sept. 2013.
• This is an enrollment decrease of 16. WFSC currently has 22 children that will turn 5 years old by the school cutoff.
• CMCA staff are currently negotiating with a private partner to help reduce this cut. Additional partners are encouraged to contact Preis at 573-443-8706 ext. 1025 if they would like to help maintain services for 16 families in Mexico.
The Laddonia and prison program are not currently affected by the budget cuts.
The reorganization is aligned with three main priorities: to respond proactively to shrinking federal, state and local resources; remedy the cumulative impacts on program infrastructure from nearly a decade of stagnant federal funding; and position the program to excel in its primary mission of providing high-quality, comprehensive services which prepare children and families for success in school and later life.
The changes, effective May 1, 2013, for the program year ending April 30, 2014, will impact the program's operations in communities within seven of the eight counties CMCA serves in Central Missouri - which include Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, Osage and Audrain.
Each Head Start site in the CMCA service area has been directed "to maintain a high quality of service, ensure children's and families health and safety, and minimize disruptions to currently enrolled children. Calls made to the WFSC last week were directed to Columbia CMCA officials, who said the program reorganization will ensure CMCA Head Start's services meet these three primary objectives, and that CMCA Head Start will also leverage strategic changes in its operations to mitigate potential risks and improve the program's ability to respond to changing economic, political and social climates.
Page 2 of 2 - "Funding levels have not kept pace with the increasing cost of doing business," said Mernell King, CMCA Early Childhood Director. "We are well beyond the point of belt-tightening. We've been asked to do more with increasingly fewer resources. Our management team has made creative structural changes over the last few years but we're stretched about as thin as we can get. These new cuts took us back to the drawing board."