Stafford County Head Start students don't know it, but their early learning program faces an uncertain financial future. When sequestration kicks into effect, this federally-funded program could lose money, leaving students out in the cold.
"It's going to hurt a lot of children and families if this happens," says Pat Kruelle, mother of Jakob Kruelle. "I don't want to see it happen and we need to come to a decision and help these children and keep them where they belong, which is in Head Start.
Kathryn Massie has headed up Stafford's Head Start program for nearly two decades. She says the program has nearly 350 students enrolled and 150 on the waiting list.
Massie says a five percent cut would mean a loss of more than $116,000 per year, and one class would be cut, two teachers would be cut, and 14 children wouldn't get into the program.
"What that means to this community is that many less children will be ready for school, that many less children have gotten the support they need to go on to school, that many less families who are going to be economically advantageous to the community."
Elena Hoe has two children in the program and is upset that a Congressional stalemate could impact it.
"Like they always say, the kids are our future. They need to think about that," she says.
The timing makes it even more challenging. School systems are trying to figure out their budgets, which means they don't know what to tell teachers and parents who want to have their children in the program next year.