Wilkes-Barre, PA- On the eve of President Obama’s visit to Northeastern Pennsylvania, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) was joined by families from across the region to call on Congress to reverse the sequester cuts that are keeping thousands of vulnerable Pennsylvania children from attending Head Start programs. With the fate of the sequester’s 2014 impacts set to be decided in September, Casey unveiled a letter to Congressional leadership highlighting the devastating impact in Pennsylvania and across the country. In advance of President Obama’s address, Casey discussed the role of Head Start in preparing low-income children to succeed, and the long term economic impact of failing to provide quality early education. Due to the sequester, Luzerne County Head Start will be unable to serve 49 children this school year and if the sequester is kept in place for the coming budget year that number will rise to 145 children for next school year.
“Head Start is an important resource that helps low-income children receive a high quality education that sets them on the path for success in life,” Senator Casey said. “Congress has the opportunity to reverse the sequester so that children in Luzerne County and across Pennsylvania can attend Head Start. This is also about our economy. Head Start sets a foundation for life that can take children through high school, college and into the job market.”
The text of Senator Casey’s letter can be found below:
Dear Majority Leader Reid, Republican Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi:
I write to request that you work together to find a common-sense alternative to sequestration. The evidence is mounting that this method of addressing our budget issues is having dire consequences, especially on our Nation’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens: low-income children enrolled in Head Start.
Today, I visited the Luzerne County Head Start program, which has been forced to cut 32 places from its Head Start program and 17 places from its Early Head Start program. These 49 children are among the 2,812 seats that have been cut from Pennsylvania’s Head Start program as a result of sequestration. Nationwide over 57,000 children have lost the opportunity to participate in Head Start.
It is critical for Congress to develop a comprehensive strategy to address deficit reduction. Although I sincerely believe we must work to get our fiscal house in order, I also believe it is necessary to solidify the ongoing economic recovery and protect our communities. Cuts to crucial programs, such as Head Start, pose too much harm to the prospects of our Nation’s children. As such, I ask you to prioritize working together to find a balanced and reasonable approach to solving sequestration.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator