Federal sequestration cuts are now forcing one Western Mass education center to take on less students.
Classroom chairs and learning tools sat empty in the parking lot of Head Start in Springfield Monday morning.
They were set up to show what these new cuts mean for the education center.
"For the first time in the 48 years that we've been here, we've had to cut the number of children that we serve," said Janis Santos, executive director of Head Start.
The school provides child developments services to low-income families in Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee.
It is now going to lose half a million dollars in funding due to the mandatory sequestration budget cuts.
"This coming year we'll be serving 239 less children in Head Start," said Santos.
That's 239 children who may not receive the basic health and learning disability screenings before entering kindergarten.
And the cuts don't affect just the students. Eighteen teachers have also been laid off.
Maria Rodriguez is a former Head Start student. She's now an employee and says she fears children will not be able to benefit from the services that once helped her.
"They won't have a place to have a healthy meal, medical screening and everything we do at head start," said Rodriguez.
Siobhan Rosa has one child in the program and one who graduated.
She said she worries with the cuts, other families will not be able to benefit from the services that has helped hers.
"As a community, this is very hard. It's very detrimental to everyone," said Rosa.
City officials said Monday the cuts won't necessarily just affect the school, but they will also have an impact on the city.
"Typically these slots go to people who are in poverty. They gave them the math foundation and the reading foundation that they need to catch up so when they go to the Springfield Public School system, they catch up," said Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams.
Head Start said they plan on fighting these cuts and hope to get some funding back to the program.
Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Several cities and towns across the pioneer valley paid tribute on Saturday to those who served our country and made the ultimate sacrifice 72 years ago.More >>
Massachusetts State Police announced an arrest made this past week involving one pound of the drug MDMA, which is better known as Molly, a pure form of ecstasy.More >>