What about kids? I listened to a discussion about sequestration on the radio today. The message from the story was – cutting all that federal money turned out not to be that bad. They mentioned that lawns were being mowed less often at military installations and that already busy legal aid attorneys might have to take some time off without pay. They vaguely mentioned children and put no numbers to what was happening with kids.
If the direct impact on Riverside and the people we serve is any indication of what sequestration means, the results have been very sad. Our Early Head Start program in Somerville has had to cut services to 24 families. These services are for pregnant moms and for children through the age of three and we focus on critical areas of health, safety, nutrition, and learning. Many of these families are not fluent in English.
There has been a reduction in slots nationally, between Head Start and Early Head Start, of 71,000 children. In Massachusetts alone, that is 1223 children who will go without these critical services. That is almost a 10% reduction. Now waiting lists are getting longer.
We can’t afford to stop weekly visits to low income families where there is a need for support in child development and wellness. We can’t afford to stop parent-child playgroups and socialization activities that support parent education and provide critical parenting skills. And, we can’t afford to stop offering pre-natal information and support for families. The cost will be too great. It will just come later when it is harder to reverse problems that emerge for children and families.
While the stock market rebounds and housing prices climb, we need to make sure the results of sequestration are understood. There is a real cost to withholding these funds.
~Scott M. Bock, President/CEO