Tennessee stands to lose nearly $15 million in funding if Congress allows the so-called sequester cuts to take effect Friday, and agencies in Middle Tennessee are bracing for the impact.
One group that could be hit particularly hard is the Metro Action Commission, and its leaders are joining others in begging state lawmakers to act now.
With more than 1,500 children enrolled in its seven area Head Start programs, Metro Action Commission is the largest provider of early childhood education in Davidson County.
But if Congress allows the automatic federal spending cuts to go through, the number of children enrolled could be much lower.
"The sequestration could mean a 5- to 9-percent cut to our program, and so that's anywhere between just under $700,000 to $1 million cut," said Metro Action Commission spokesperson Lisa McCrady.
The agency spends about $9,000 per child in its Head Start, or pre-school, program, but the agency spends roughly $16,500 for kids in Early Head Start.
It also provides services like prenatal education for expectant moms, transportation for hundreds of students and even vision and speech screening.
"That could mean it's about 75 to 175 children that could be affected by not being able to come to a Head Start program," McCrady said.
And children aren't the only ones potentially affected. Nutrition assistance programs for seniors could be slashed by $1 million. Job search assistance and placement programs for the unemployed could see a cut of nearly $700,000.
And even the Department of Public Health isn't immune. It stands to lose tens of thousands in funding for childhood vaccines.
"Just want them to be able to take a look at programs like ours - the impact that it would have to their constituents and see if there are some other solutions that we could come to," McCrady said.
Metro Nashville Public Schools stands to lose some $4 million for teachers, aides and staff.
That is money primarily earmarked for Metro's Title I and children with disabilities programs, but officials say parents wouldn't see those cuts this year.
The cuts would come out of next year's budget.
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