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updated: 2/28/2013 6:26 AM

Illinois Head Start program threatened by budget cuts

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Associated Press

Diana Rauner of Chicago's Ounce of Prevention Fund says her nonprofit is trying to prepare for the automatic federal budget cuts set to kick in on Friday.

The White House says the cuts could mean the elimination of Head Start and Early Head Start services for about 2,700 Illinois children. The programs help low-income children from birth to age 5 get ready to enter school.

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Rauner says her group, which serves 1,341 children, hasn't received any guidance from the government as to how much its funding is likely to be reduced.

Research has shown that kids who have access to Head Start services are better students and are more likely to stay in school and go on to be productive adults. Rauner says shortchanging Head Start could have long-term implications.

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