A public event will be held at 1:30 p.m. next Monday, displaying 53 empty seats to visually depict the devastating impact the sequester budget cuts are having on Santa Barbara County’s poorest children and families.

The event is sponsored by the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County Head Start program and will be located at 5681 Hollister Ave. in Goleta (Goleta Valley Community Center).

The 53 Head Start seats left empty by the forced budget cuts will be displayed on the front lawn of the Goleta Valley Community Center to call attention to the 53 children throughout Santa Barbara County and the tens of thousands of children nationwide who will lose access to Head Start’s comprehensive early learning services as a direct result of federally-mandated budget cuts.

“Fifty-three children in Santa Barbara County will not have the Head Start they need to move on a path toward a vibrant future,” CAC Executive Director said Fran Forman. “Our teachers and staff are motivated and committed to serving vulnerable children, but these cuts have shaken our program to its core.

“We’re not alone. Head Start programs nationwide are being forced to make heart-wrenching decisions that will slam shut the window of opportunity for our country’s poorest children.”

NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said: “As Head Start families lose access to critical education, health and economic opportunities because of the sequester, our leaders let slip the foundation of the American dream. This month, Head Start programs in every corner of the country are reminding their elected officials that the shadow of each empty chair is one more future darkened by sequester.”

— Elizabeth Lee is a grant writer for the Community Action Commission.