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HHS: 70,000 Head Start slots won't be cut

Note to politicians who keep citing a federal pre-sequester estimate that up to 70,000 Head Start children could be cut: the feds now say that won't be the number at this time.

PolitiFact Florida recently fact-checked a claim by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, that "70,000 three-year-olds and four-year-olds across America will lose access to the preschool Head Start classroom" including 2,000 in Florida. We rated that Half True.

PolitiFact Virginia also fact-checked a similar claim by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner.

U.S. Department of Human Services spokesman Kenneth Wolfe told PolitiFact Florida today that the Office of Head Start has reached out to all the Head Start grantees to ask how they are achieving the 5 percent cut and expects to release the answer around late June. The programs have to get the go-ahead from the federal Office of Head Start to cut slots.

The 70,000 figure was what the White House used based on a 5 percent cut to the $8 billion program that serves about one million children. 

"If every single grantee and program did nothing but absorb the 5 percent reduction in slots that's where the 70,000 number would happen," Wolfe said.

But many if not most programs are finding ways other than cutting slots to reduce their costs -- such as reducing staff or school days.

"It won't be 70,000 slots reduced," Wolfe said.