Early Head Start

Sean Sandefur

The Opportunity Project, or TOP Early Learning Centers, are making a significant impact on preschool education in Wichita.  Philanthropist Barry Downing created the initiative in 2003. Its mission is to use education to lift children out of poverty.  Graduates of TOP have elevated test scores, better social skills and are less likely to be absent from school.  There are hundreds of children on  TOP's waiting list.

An Education Steeped In Exploration

Cornelia Stevens is Executive Director of TOP Early Learning Centers.

The Kansas Head Start Association says 440 fewer children will be able to participate in its programs because of sequester cuts.

Before the federal budget cuts took effect earlier this year, Kansas Head Start programs had more than 9,000 slots for children from low-income families. The sequester this year reduced Head Start's budget by over 5 percent.

Head Start is designed to combat poverty by offering preschool education, improving early-childhood nutrition and well-being, and encouraging parent involvement.

Budget cuts forced by federal sequestration will mean the end of Head Start and Early Head Start in three south-central Kansas counties.

The closures in Pratt, Stafford and Kingman counties will take place at the end of this month.