Head Start: Budget cuts affect program for low-income children

WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government says 57,265 fewer children across the country will participate in Head Start this school year because of automatic budget cuts put in place two years ago.

Head Start programs help prepare low-income children for elementary school, feed them and provide them with health care. The Office of Head Start says more than a million children are served by the programs each year.

The automatic cuts were put in place after Congress and the White House failed to agree on a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit.

Federal officials say 18,000 Head Start staff members will see their pay cut or will lose their jobs because of the automatic cuts. Head Start centers also will reduce their hours and the number of days they are open.