LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Tampa, Florida -- Congress has until midnight Thursday to agree on a budget, if not, $85 billion in cuts go into effect.

The budget cuts mean losing funding for 2,700 Head Start students statewide -- 300 of those kids are in Hillsborough County.

Nationwide, Head Start would lose funding for 70,000 children, 10,000 teacher jobswould be in jeopardy and funding for 7,200 special education teachers, aides and staff could be cut.

Head Start's mission is in the name, giving kids from 6 weeks through preschool the right start for school.

"My sons have increased a lot in speech, vocabulary, learning how to write, their shapes and colors. They are learning how to socialize with other kids. Head Start is a great start for my kids they've progressed a lot," said Priscilla Hernandez.

Hernandez, a working mom, said if not for Head Start, daycare would cost her $200 a week for both her sons.

"It's been great program for my family. The boys not only get a great education helps me financially. I know they are in a safe place," said Hernandez.

"We have high quality teachers in every classroom. We have teachers with degrees, teacher assistants with CDA," said Hillsborough Head Start director Louis Finney.

Finney said Head Start serves 3,450 kids in Hillsborough County but if Congress doesn't come to an agreement before Friday Hillsborough's Head Start would lose funding for more than 300 students.

"If these cuts go into effect then over the course of the next several days and weeks, we're going to see tangible impacts like kids all over the state of Florida losing access to their Head Start program," said White House Press SecretaryJosh Earnest.

"One child for us is too many," saidFinney. "We're optimistic this is not going to happen."

If the budget cuts do happen, Finney said each child stands to lose more than daycare.

"One child would lose dental services, dental screenings, and additional support for mother and father. That child could be a child with disabilities, a homeless child."

Hillsborough's Head Start is one of the largest in the state. Finney said it's not just kids who would lose services Head Start also offers parenting courses to moms and dads along with marriage classes. The program, he said, nurtures the entire family.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wtsp.com/O5FR9Y