Sequester: Chicago Head Start, other programs would see cuts

February 27, 2013 2:54:44 PM PST
Sequester deadline approaches: In 48 hours, drastic budget cuts will slash government jobs and programs from coast to coast, including in Chicago

The Mary Crane Center on the Chicago's West Side is a long way from Washington, D.C. However, if the nation's leaders fail to act and budget cuts become reality, the Head Start program will feel the pain.

"I don't think they understand the reality of single parents trying to raise their children, trying to get the best education," Sharna Ivy, parent, said.

Ivy brings her 4-year-old son, Ethan, to Mary Crane Center every day, so she can go to work as a caregiver. When the single mom isn't working, she volunteers her time at the center making attendance posters for every class.

Ivy and others at Mary Crane are paying close attention to what is going on in Washington. The sequestration is a package of across-the-board cuts that is split between defense budget and discretionary spending. It includes federal grants to state and local governments; almost all of Mary Crane's funding comes from the government.

"We have no outside sources of funding, it would be really difficult for us to continue with children and families," Lavetter Terry, executive director, The Mary Crane Center.

Besides cuts to education, air traffic controllers said they will feel the squeeze, which means air traffic will slow down. Because big programs, such as Social Security, Medicaid and farm subsidies are spared, the sequester will have the biggest impact on military communities and big cites.

While the clock is ticking until the deadline, DePaul University's chairman of the political science department doesn't see either side willing to compromise.

"The White House strategy is they want to maintain services, and in order to pay for that, they want to raise taxes, which is what Republicans refuse to do," Wayne Steger, DePaul University, said.