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Will Children Be Casualties Of The Stimulus “Compromise”?

The stimulus kabuki continues. Will children be the losers in this publicly played out farce? Via CQ:

The single biggest spending cut to the original Senate plan comes out of a $79 billion state fiscal stabilization allocation that would help states avoid tax increases and cutbacks in education and other high priority services. The compromise trims that funding to $39 billion and sets up a conflict with the House-passed bill that allocates $79 billion….

The compromise would cut additional funding for Head Start and Early Head Start, programs to prepare children to succeed in school, from $2.1 billion to 1.05 billion. That’s half of the $2.1 billion in the House bill.

The Senate substitute eliminates $5.8 billion in the original measure that would have been spent on grants and contracts to prevent illness through health screenings, education, immunization, nutrition counseling, media campaigns and other activities. The House has set aside $3 billion for prevention and wellness.

Children don’t vote.  Which means that programs which benefit them far too often end up on the funding chopping block.  

So who will pushback on their behalf for the upcoming conference negotiations on this bill?

I know I will be. And I hope you will, too.  Why?  Because without a public push, the likelihood of any of this funding being restored is nil — and the most vulnerable members of our society will be shoved aside.  Again.  At a time when their need is increasingly desperate.  


Some ammunition for calls to your Senators and House members: 

— High demand for free/reduced-price lunch eats into school district’s budget.

Nearly 50 percent of students who attend Yulee Primary School rely on a getting a free or reduced-price lunch, and that number is growing rapidly, according to officials. Many school districts said they don’t expect to see that trend end any time soon. 

"It’s such an iffy world out there right now. We just have to maintain these programs for the parents to have the knowledge that their kids are going to get at least one good meal a day," said Nassau County food services director Allyn Graves….

For many school districts the demand for assistance has begun eating into the budget. Fresh fruit can no longer be offered on a daily basis because it’s too expensive. Also, food service jobs are being eliminated.

—  Schools face sharp rise in homeless students.

Schools, often the first safety net for struggling families, are emerging as a key anchor for homeless youths. In addition to their legally required free breakfasts and lunches, many schools also offer tutoring, give out backpacks and clothes, and connect families with community services. In Manassas a social worker has arranged for homeless high school students to go early to shower. 

—  Economy’s silent, heavy toll on children.

— Lest people think the homeless children problem is recent, it’s been growing since 2003.

— More children arriving at homeless shelters.

— Amid foreclosures, a rise in homeless students.

— Homeless numbers alarming.

— Homeless services hit hard.

— More Greenville families doubling up.

— The "w" word, re-engaged.

— Economy squeezing foster care system.

— Homeless camps strain environment.

— Department of Agriculture summer nutrition program to benefit children.

— Schools losing thousands of dollars in free breakfast/lunch funding.

— Feed students to help them learn.

Also, prior articles in this child poverty series:  making child poverty a priority;  mortgaging the nation’s future Part I and Part II; better childhood nutrition Part I and Part IIgive kids a head start; bringing poverty to the table Part I and Part IItrue compassion.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com