Local Head Start program facing federal budget cuts

February 28, 2013

In today’s Herald-Times: http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/stories/2013/02/28/schoolnews.head-start-other-preschool-programs-facing-cuts-mccsc-could-lose-560-000.sto

Funding for about 1,000 Indiana children in Head Start and Early Head Start could also be cut, according to the White House. Locally, the South Central Community Action Program, which operates local Head Start and Early Head Start programs, has already been operating on 19 percent less than it did last year, due to the expected sequestration.

Todd Lare, director of SCCAP, was hoping that money would be restored, but with Friday’s looming decision, he is not feeling hopeful.

“We started the year thinking the issues would all work out,” Lare said. “Now, it looks like that probably isn’t the case.”

“I think it’s easy to talk about closing a few classrooms or not providing transportation, but that’s a lifeline for many children, not only for learning, but having a routine and normalcy that builds toward their long-term school careers,” he said. “I think the impact on individuals is profound. There is no do-over.”

The timing of the cuts is also ironic, especially during a time when the importance of early education is being touted on national and statewide levels, Lare said.

“The national conversation is about extending opportunities for early childhood education,” he said. “It’s sad that (the cuts) come at time when we are actually talking about not scaling back programs.”

In addition to Head Start, SCCAP is also dealing with cuts to programs such as weatherization, community services block grant, Section 8 housing vouchers, individual development accounts and energy assistance.

Free energy efficiency improvements available

February 19, 2013

The South Central Community Action Program is seeking applicants from Brown, Monroe, Morgan and Owen counties for its Weatherization Program.

The Weatherization Program reduces energy consumption in low-income households and insures that each client has a safe, operating heat source. Each client receives a furnace inspection and an energy audit. SCCAP uses private contractors to repair or replace heat sources, install insulation and seal the homes. Homeowners and renters are eligible. The program is federally funded and is free to local participants.

“This is a great time to apply for our Weatherization Program,” SCCAP Executive Director Todd Lare said. “While we sometimes have long waiting lists for Weatherization, we currently have worked through most of the names on our lists and are seeking new applicants.

“The Weatherization Program allows households to reduce their utility bills while being safer and more comfortable in their homes,” Lare said. “On average, across the nation, it reduces energy costs by more than $400 per household each year.”

To be eligible to have your owner-occupied or rental home weatherized, your household income must not exceed 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. The income limits by family size are: 1 person in household – up to $22,340; 2 people – $30,260; 3 people – $38,180; 4 people – $46,100; 5 people – $54,020; 6 people – $61,940. For apartment buildings to be weatherized, two-thirds of the occupants must be eligible for the program and all units in the building must be weatherized. To apply, call 812-339-3447, ext. 275.

SCCAP is a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for low-income citizens to move toward personal and economic independence. Its programs include: Affordable Rental Housing, the Circles Initiative, Energy Assistance, Family Development, Head Start, Individual Development Accounts, Section 8 Housing and Weatherization.

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