Well it happened. After months of warning and endless debate on Capitol Hill, it happened. Across the board cuts, known as sequestration, went into effect over the weekend. While it is still too soon to tell exactly how the cuts will impact children, families and the agencies who serve them throughout the state – it is clear there will be an impact, possibly with devastating effects.
Here are just a few examples of how Kentucky may be impacted:
Education funding is at risk – About 160 teacher and aid jobs will be at risk due to $11.8 million in cuts to primary and secondary education funding. Fewer schools will receive funding and additional funds will be eliminated for teachers, aids, and staff who serve children with disabilities. Much of this will occur the next school year but will affect staffing plans now.
Head Start and Early Head Start at risk – About 1,100 children in Kentucky will no longer be able to receive this critical early education experience.
Child care at risk – On top of the cuts the state has already announced to the child care assistance program, 500 additional children could lose access to child care due to a decrease in federal assistance.
Nutrition for children and mothers at risk – An estimated 9,100 children and mothers will lose nutrition aid from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC).
These cuts in Kentucky and across the country don’t just hold our economy back this year – they threaten the health and development of children and the stability of families in ways that will cost the Commonwealth into the future. Children growing up without the education, nutrition, and opportunities to succeed will grow up costing the state more as they rely on public programs to survive.
While some have correctly pointed out that spending will still remain high and even continue to grow even after sequestration – using this to talk about cuts to programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children and Head Start is like comparing apples and oranges. Government spending is and will continue to increase due to mandatory entitlements like Medicare and Social Security not touched by sequester. Programs benefitting kids are facing cuts that have already been cut before.
What can you do?
Our Congressmen need to be held accountable for the decisions they make that affect all Kentuckians. They need to hear from you about how the federal cuts are affecting you and your family, your agencies and programs, and your communities. Did you lose your WIC assistance? Did your Head Start program lose funding? Is your education funding being cut? Call your congressmen and let him know. Since the threat has become a reality – we need to work harder to encourage our representatives to fix this. For those not familiar with calling the offices of your Members of Congress, you can call the Capitol Switchboard and asked to be connected to your Members’ offices. The phone number is (202)224-3121. You can also go to www.Congress.org to find the office’s direct line and to look up your Members of Congress.