February 15, 2014
PIQUA — In the wake of last summer’s sweeping sequestration and federal funding cuts, Council on Rural Services was forced to realign their nine county Head Start program in order to make the mandatory 5.27 percent cuts to the program budgets.
Difficult changes forced strategic decisions to close 6 classrooms, accept 97 fewer children, and reduce the workforce by 37 employees when the program opened last fall. This mandated budget reduction of $646,744 affected many of our families and communities along with local economies too.
Now, with the Omnibus funding bill that was passed by Congress in January, the 5.27 percent funding will be restored nationwide to all Head Start programs. In the case of Council on Rural Services and the nine counties they serve — Auglaize, Champaign, Darke, Logan, Greene, Miami, Preble, Shelby and Van Wert — this will restore funding to use within this current grant year.
“During the next 60 days the CORS management team will carefully analyze where we can quickly and efficiently restore services to eligible children and families that are in need of early education services,” said Dan Schwanitz, current interim Executive Director. “After plans are approved we will move forward quickly to increase the services for our most vulnerable citizens – our children.”
In addition to restoration of the sequestration budget cuts will come a long-overdue 1.3 percent wage cost of living adjustment to the grant for all active employees. Cost of living awards from federal funding have not kept up with the actual consumer price index over the last 10 years.
“CORS is an excellent agency that provides quality programming and services to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The restoration of these funds will help to continue providing strong programs in the future for our children and our communities,” said Janet Julian, Board Chairperson
The Council on Rural Services organization administers grants and programs in a nine county area of west central Ohio, including Greene County, that include Head Start, Early Head Start, Kids Learning Place, Help Me Grow, Gateway Youth Programs, and Achievement Center for Educational Success. In addition there are volunteer programs, such as the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).