The problem with “sequestration”
This week we’ve been talking a lot about how child care assistance helps children and families. There’s an opportunity to increase federal support for child care assistance and early learning programs, and we’re urging Congress to take it by increasing the Child Care Development Block Grant by $825 million.
But that might not matter if “sequestration” is allowed to take effect. The term has started to come up a lot recently, and I thought I’d explain what it means. Remember last fall, when we faced a national crisis over the “debt ceiling”? In the deal Congress finally made, it agreed to cut the budget or else it would be cut the federal budget automatically across the board – that’s sequestration.
Well, Congress failed to agree on a budget, so these cuts from sequestration might go into effect in January 2013. What this could mean for kids is less resources for child care, including fewer slots and fewer jobs for providers. Discretionary spending, where much of the federal funding for child programs comes from, would face an 8% cut. That means programs like Head Start and Early Head Start, among others, would face unprecedented cuts, interruptions and gaps in services. I probably don’t have to tell you, these programs don’t have a lot of fat on them to begin with. Even now many have waiting lists, are understaffed, or are underfunded.
Congress needs to act soon by passing a responsible budget that addresses the national debt without sacrificing important children’s programs like child care assistance. Stay tuned for updates on the federal budget and kids.