AUSTIN (KXAN) - The most vulnerable children in Central Texas could suffer if Congress does not reach a compromise by Friday.
Massive budget cuts would hurt the poorest families getting help through a program called Head Start .
The local non-profit Child, Inc. is the Travis County Head Start provider. They are currently serving 2,120 kids at more than a dozen early childhood development centers. They also partner with the Austin, Pflugerville, Manor and Del Valle school districts to help young kids between zero and four, and teenage mothers.
The children in the centers come from families that do not have much, but inside the classrooms they have all the potential in the world.
Reading, writing, technology and art -- even good hygiene and table manners are part of their daily routine.
Teachers and volunteers try to set a foundation for success while the kids' parents struggle to survive. A family of four must bring in less than $23,550 a year to be considered for the free program. A single parent with one child must make less than $15,510 a year.
"We're most likely talking families that are working minimum wage jobs and probably working one or two jobs," said Audrey Abed, Program Operation Director for Child, Inc.
Head Start program statewide face a 5-percent cut in funding. For Travis County, that means 112 children would lose their seats.
It is not the direction Child, Inc. wants to go knowing the number of local families living in poverty continues to climb.
"Yes, it is very saddening to even think about," said Abed who is unclear how quickly the cuts would go into affect if Congress does not reach a deal.
The Austin school district is also bracing for federal cuts. The CFO says AISD stands to lose $4.8 million which would include 106 teaching and staff positions.
The employees serve the most at-risk students based on their income, disabilities and students in career and technical education programs.
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