RUTLAND -- Vermont's Head Start programs will serve fewer needy children this year following the mandatory federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
Vermont's seven Head Start programs will be getting $800,000 less this year, said Ben Allen, Vermont's Head Start collaborator.
That means the program has had to cut 15 teaching and seven home visit positions and will serve 199 fewer needy children and their families with services such as health and dental care referrals.
The state had 1,572 spaces for children and pregnant women in their programs in September 2012. That number will drop to 1,373 next month.
The budget cuts affected some programs this summer.
Marianne Miller, director of Head Start and Early Head Start for the Central Vermont Community Action Council, said her program, which served 115 families in Washington, Orange and Lamoille counties, had to close its locations this summer.
"I think very few people understand the impact of sequestration," she said.
The cuts are affecting other programs across the state.
The Windham County Head Start programs will serve 37 fewer children after losing six of its 70 employees because of the cuts.
Paul Behrman, chairman of the Vermont Head Start Association, said it makes no sense to cut a program that only serves about half the people who are eligible for the services, such as a family of three with a yearly household income of $19,530.
"The whole notion we are scaling back these programs is just lunacy," he said.
According to the Champlain Valley Head Start, the percentage of children who needed dental work and got it increased from 76 percent to 89 percent between 2009 and 2011. And the percentage of children who were prepared for kindergarten jumped from 30 percent to 61 percent, according to data collected by the program.