The Sequesters Impact on Children Youth and Families in Crisis

little girl handing over phone

Children and families across our nation are being affected by sequester and by the failure of Congress and the Obama Administration to come to an agreement on how to restructure cuts that allowed eighty-five (85) billion dollars in automatic cuts to take effect last week. The impact of the cuts will be deep. The cuts that affect a wide range of programs and services that not only will touch upon the lives of children, but will affect their families as well.

As a result of the gridlock in Washington, many programs and services that children and their families have relied on will be cut back and in some cases cut out altogether. Vital services will be slashed to programs in education, Title I, special education, Head Start, nutrition assistance for women, infants and children, rental assistance, emergency employment compensation and mental health and substance abuse services.

In a few weeks is the March 27th deadline for a continuing resolution to extend funding of the government’s operations for the remainder of the year and to avoid a government shutdown. Congress will need to pass a spending bill that funds the government through September 2013 and will maintain the spending cuts caused by sequester. In May, there will be an increase in the debt ceiling to maintain the government’s ability to borrow money to pay its bills, and further down the road are the 2014 appropriations bills.

Spending on children in this country makes up less than 10 percent of all federal spending. In all these fiscal decisions, Congress will have an opportunity to restore some of the funding cuts to hardest hit programs that affect vulnerable children and families. Throughout it all, children must be held harmless in appropriations agreements and debt ceiling negotiations. There must be no new cuts. Childhood hunger continues to be a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well-kept secret. Programs that our nation’s poorest children and youth depend on are on the line including but not limited to: TANF, WIC, SNAP, Medicaid, Head Start, child care, and Social Security. It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food.

We must compel President Obama and Congress reach a budget deal — so pressure to cut federal spending, particularly to programs for hungry and poor people, has never been higher. Every Washington interest group has been pounding the halls of Congress to weigh in on a multi-trillion dollar deal that that affects every federal program and every person in this country for decades to come. Unfortunately, the media and politicians are not talking about the tremendous impact that the deal will have on hungry and poor people. If we do not speak up, vulnerable people could easily be forgotten.

Congress needs to hear your voice about the importance of protecting programs that serve the poor. Advocates for vulnerable people need your help to remind Congress to take the deficit seriously without balancing the budget on the backs of hungry and poor people. Proverbs calls us to speak for those without a voice. We need your help to remind Congress that their budget decisions are moral choices that could have devastating consequences.

Call your elected officials in Washington today! Use our toll-and tell them to pass a budget deal that includes a circle of protection around programs for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.

Explain to your elected officials in Washington that any deal reached must:
• Explicitly protect low-income entitlement programs for hungry and poor people — like SNAP (formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit — against cuts or harmful changes.
• Include additional tax revenue, balanced with responsible spending cuts so that our country can reduce its deficits while continuing its commitment to reducing hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.
• Prevent further cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, including poverty-focused development assistance, international food aid, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The President and Congress must reach a deal, but it is critical that Congress get it right. An imbalanced package will severely hamper our ability to address hunger and poverty for years to come. Call Congress today. If we wait, it will be too late.

According to the USDA, over seventeen (17) million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2009. ii Twenty (20) percent or more of the child population in sixteen (16) states and D.C. are living in food insecure households. The states of Arkansas twenty-four point four (24.4) percent and Texas twenty-three point three (24.3) percent have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food. (Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iii
In 2009, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children twenty-one point three (21.3) percent, especially households with children headed by single women thirty-six point six (36.6) percent or single men twenty-seven point eight (27.8) percent, Black non-Hispanic households twenty-four point nine (24.9) percent and Hispanic households twenty-six point nine (26.9) percent. v

These heartbreaking facts about the prevalence and the face of hunger in America and the proposed cuts to very necessary social service programs has drawn the attention of thousands of Christians, people of other faiths, heads of denominations, corporations, and nonprofit organizations and compelled them to take action. Will you join them and urge our elected officials to protect the programs poor children need[i] to succeed?

Everything from Pell Grants to food stamps could be cut by Congress. At the same time, the very wealthiest citizens in our nation continue to enjoy tax breaks while working families continue to struggle with high unemployment. More than one (1) in five (5) children lives in poverty and nearly one (1) in four (4) is at risk of hunger. Now is the time to speak up for children, youth, and families in crisis. Please join me in telling the members of the Super Committee to safeguard programs that the most vulnerable members of our society depend on particularly, in this very challenging economic period.

Reducing our nation’s long-term debt is critical, but hungry and poor people did not cause the problem, and cutting programs that help them will NOT significantly reduce our debt. But cutting these programs will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of our society.

As Congress considers federal budget cuts, please join me in urging Congress to keep our nation’s commitment to those Jesus called “the least of these” by sending an email. Remind your members of Congress that we put them in office to care for all their constituents not simply the 1%.

When you contact members of Congress, your voice will be added to thousands calling on Congress to protect programs and services that benefit children, youth, and families in crisis. Please remind your elected officials in Washington that everyone deserves a chance.

Thank for you for lending your voice to support necessary programs and services for children.

Source(s): Voices for Americas Children. USDA. Bread for the World Action Alert. Rhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010. Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008. Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008. Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

[i] Very necessary programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, Head Start, child care, and more need your help.
iiBread for the World Action Alert.
iiRhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter, Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010.
iiiNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of
Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008.
iv Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008.
nor, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

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