Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Sequester Goes Into Effect: Bad News for Low-Income Families

Recently Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through the remainder of fiscal year 2013, but unfortunately the sequester was not eliminated. Because the sequester contained $1.7 trillion over 10 years in across-the-board cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, all areas impacting children and families will be affected: education, health care, juvenile justice, child welfare and social services just to name a few.

Federal agencies have already implemented the scheduled cuts. Head Start and child care programs have cut their 2013 budgets by about 5 percent by reducing the number of children served, cutting back schedules, and making many other difficult choices. Official reports about sequestration outline a $115 million cut to the Child Care and Development Block (CCDBG) which funds child care subsidies, along with a $400 million reduction for Head Start. Estimates show that this will translate into 30,000 fewer children being served by the child care subsidy program and 70,000 fewer children being served through Head Start.

$1.7 billion in cuts over one year to four programs serving children with disabilities and their families will result in: 1,163,607 children with special health care needs would not receive care; 63,000 adults and children with disabilities and elderly individuals would lose their housing vouchers; 7,400 special education teachers, aids, and other staff serving children with disabilities will be laid off; and 75,000 persons with disabilities would lose vocational rehabilitation services for employment.

In 2012, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) released an analysis that demonstrated the consequences of the sequester for children if the cuts had gone into effect on January 2, 2013 as originally intended. Although the cuts were implemented in March, the numbers of children adversely affected will not be much lower:
  • $270,790,425 less funding available for heating and cooling assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  Nearly half of the families receiving LIHEAP assistance have at least one child.
  • Title I grants (for low-performing schools) will serve 1.8 million fewer students.
  • 26,949 fewer children will be served by early intervention special education grants.
  • 1,133,981 fewer students will be served by grants for career and technical education.
  • 51,577 fewer students will receive financial aid through the Federal Work Study program.
  • 18,611 fewer youth will be served by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which provides training services to underemployed adults, and youth who have dropped out of high school and want to go back to school or enter the labor market.
  • 4,350 fewer youth will receive education and training from Job Corps, which targets economically at-risk youth.

In light of the federal government’s final FY2013 budget, states will have important decisions to make regarding their spending for programs and services. Cutting children from the budget now will cost us later. Eliminating early education investments now would increase a child’s chances of going to prison later by up to 39 percent. And paying for that prison will cost us nearly three times more a year than it would have cost to provide him with a quality early learning experience.  Making investments in children, their families and communities, is exactly that – an investment- and not making those investments now will be costly for all of us moving forward.

For policies aimed to balance state budgets while protecting public well-being, see the Policy for Results page on Strategies for Tough Fiscal Times.

No comments:

Post a Comment