Child Advocates Warn Of Budget Cut Dangers
WASHINGTON - The U.S. House-passed Continuing Resolution (CR) would cause millions of AmericaÂs babies, children and youth to lose access to vital services that lay a foundation for their future and that of the nation. This is according to data released today by the nonpartisan ChildrenÂs Leadership Council (CLC), consisting of 57 of AmericaÂs leading child, youth and family organizations, which represent millions nationwide.
The CLC data contain national and state breakdowns of the impact that the billions of dollars in cuts contained in the House passed CR would have on the nationÂs children, youth and families, with particular attention focused on Early Head Start, Head Start, child care, Maternal and Child Health Block Grant program, school-based health clinics, Community Services Block Grant, Low Income Heating Assistance Program, Pell Grants, and Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth Services.
The collected data includes points on how the proposed cuts would affect children, youth and families in all 50 states, including a special focus on: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The CLC breakdown of the impact of the House CR is available HERE
The bottom line: Millions of American babies, children and youths will be sicker, hungrier, colder, less prepared to succeed in school, more likely to miss out on college, and harder pressed to find gainful employment if Congress embraces the CR budget cuts.
Matthew Melmed, chair, ChildrenÂs Leadership Council and executive director, ZERO TO THREE, said: ÂThe cuts contained in the House Continuing Resolution place a debt on our nationÂs most vulnerable babies, children and youth that America will be repaying for years. To cut programs which keep children safe and healthy, ready for school, in school and ready for work, is the classic definition of a penny-wise pound-foolish approach to federal budgeting which will end up costing us all more down the road than will be saved in the short-term. In the grand scheme of the federal budget these cuts look small, but for vulnerable children, they loom large. Balancing the budget is a worthy goal but it should not be done by increasing the long-term social and economic debt-burden caused by cuts to maternal and child health, early care and education, tuition assistance or workforce development. We urge Members of Congress not to be short-sighted and short-change supports for millions of
AmericaÂs babies, children and youth.Â
Michael Petit, president, Every Child Matters Education Fund, said: ÂAmericaÂs kids did not cause the recession. They did not run up the federal deficit. To hand them the bill makes no sense. Even before the House adopted its shortsighted budget, the United States was far behind most other developed nations in caring for children. To further shred our nationÂs already frayed safety net with additional cuts to babies and mothers is unacceptable.Â
Kisha Bird, project director, Campaign for Youth, CLASP, said: "Many policymakers have invoked the nation's children and youth as reason for getting today's deficits under control. Yet they defy logic and beg reason by declaring out the other side of their mouth that slashing programs that help young people build a foundation for their future is a way to balance the budget. Reducing the deficit and balancing the budget must not be done by stunting the future earning potential and economic opportunities of todayÂs vulnerable youth. To shut them out of access to jobs, work experience, and educational activities is counterproductive. Congress must prioritize investments that will create jobs today and tomorrow.Â
"It is not just morally wrong, but fiscally irresponsible to cut support for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant and school-based health centers. The Block Grant plays a critical role in reducing infant mortality and otherwise promoting healthy families, and school-based health centers are a model of health care efficiency," said Bill Bentley, president and CEO of Voices for America's Children. "Congress calls this type of spending 'discretionary,' but this help is in fact very mandatory for millions of needy children and families."
Almeta Keys, a former Head Start parent and now executive director, Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center in Washington, DC, said: ÂEarly Head Start and Head Start are all about making our children who need the most help better able to succeed in school in the short term and more productive citizens in the long term. In recent years, Congress has seen fit to invest more resources into Head Start. What the U.S. House would now do is cut right into the bone of Head Start, sending it backwards at a time when demand for this early childhood education and health program is higher than ever. In these difficult times, America needs more Â not less -- of what Early Head Start and Head Start have to offer.Â
OVERVIEW OF HARMS TO CHILDREN
* Head Start/Early Head Start. Head Start promotes school readiness among at-risk children up to age 5 by enhancing social and cognitive development through education, health, nutritional, and other services and by engaging families in childrenÂs learning. Early Head Start serves children from birth to age 3 and some pregnant women. Currently, Head Start and Early Head Start have funding to serve 965,000 children. This includes 61,000 slots that are paid for by the 2009 Recovery Act but are scheduled to expire in September 2011. Proposed Cuts: The House proposal would reduce funding for Head Start by nearly $1.1 billion, or 15 percent, relative to the level under the current continuing resolution. This cut would be in addition to the expiration of Recovery Act funds. If these cuts were implemented by reducing enrollment, about 157,000 children would lose Head Start. The cuts would be on top of the loss of the 61,000 expiring Head Start and Early Head Start slots paid for
by the Recovery Act. 50,000 babies in Early Head Start would lose services.
* Maternal and Child Health Block Grant. The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant, as authorized under Title V of the Social Security Act, aims to improve the health, safety, and well-being of all mothers and children. !rough funding to the states, MCH programs strive to support community-based initiatives to address the comprehensive physical, psychological, and social needs of the maternal and child population with an end goal of ensuring that all mothers and children have access to the services and supports they need, including access to quality health care in supportive, culturally-competent, family, and community settings. Proposed Cut: $50 million (7.6% decrease from 2010).
* School Based Health Clinics. School-based health centers blend medical care with preventive and psychosocial services as well as organize broader school-based and community-based health promotion efforts. Typically staffed with nurse practitioners and health aides, they increasingly include mental health professionals. The following resources provide both general background as well as publications that address the specific topics of access to care, clinical services, financing, reproductive health care, research and evaluation, school-based dental services, school-based health centers/school partnerships, and staffing and training. Proposed Cut: School Based Health Clinics would lose funding from cuts proposed to its key funding sources: $61 million from Title V, $327 million from Title X and $1.3 billion from Community Health Centers. If the cuts are enacted, more than half of the school based health centers across the nation would be forced to close.
* Child Care and Development Block Grant. The Child Care and Development Block Grant Program provides grants to states, territories, tribes, and tribal organizations for child care assistance for low-income families. Proposed Cut: $39 million (1.8% decrease from 2010).
* Community Services Block Grant. The Community Services Block Grant offers funds to states to address the causes of poverty by providing effective services in communities. Activities may include coordination and referral to other programs, as well as direct services such as child care, transportation, employment and education, and self-help projects. Proposed Cut: $14.2 million (45.71% decrease from 2010).
* Low Income Heating Assistance Program Description: LIHEAP provides funding to states, tribes, and territories to provide assistance to help eligible low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. The program consists of block grant formula funds ($4.5 billion) and a smaller Contingency Fund ($590 million). The Contingency Fund provides emergency funding to supplement regular LIHEAP grants and is distributed to states as needed to help households, especially those in states with particularly high home energy assistance needs. Proposed Cut: The House proposal would eliminate the LIHEAP Contingency Fund for the rest of the year (a cut of $390 million). The portion dedicated to children is $148.3 million, reflecting a 7.7% decrease from 2010.
* Pell Grants. The Pell Grant program provides grants to low- and moderate-income undergraduate students to help pay for college. Pell Grants also help low-income working adults return to school to improve their skills. Proposed Cut: The House proposal would reduce funding for Pell Grants by approximately $5.7 billion, or 24 percent, and would reduce the maximum discretionary Pell Grant award by $845 (from $4,860 to $4,015), or 17.4 percent. This cut would affect all 9.4 million students who receive Pell Grants.
* Workforce Investment Act -Youth Activities. Employment and training services help match job seekers with labor-market and employer needs. Workforce Investment Act (WIA) formula grants provide funds for states to provide job training, job search, and other employment assistance for low-income adults and workers whose jobs have been eliminated. They also provide summer and year-round jobs, education, training, and employment assistance for both in-school and out-of-school youth. Proposed Cut: The House bill would not provide any funding for WIA this program year, which for youth, begins in April and would mean 254,000 youth would not be served.
ABOUT CHILDRENÂS LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
The Children's Leadership Council is a coalition of child advocates representing over 50 leading national policy and advocacy organizations who are working everyday to improve the health, education, and well-being of children and youth in order to prepare them for school, work, and life. The CLC organizations have members in every state in the nation. For the first time, there is a strong, unified group of organizations speaking with one voice to achieve a singular mission - building the public awareness and creating the political will necessary to make greater federal investments in America's children and youth a reality. The Children's Leadership Council believes investing in children and youth is investing in America. By making all of our children - from birth to young adulthood - a priority, we strengthen our country and secure everyone's future.