As a mamí and an advocate, I have had a lot to smile about over the last two weeks. I am finally hearing politicians talk about the issues that matter most to me personally and professionally. While some would have thought it impossible for Republicans and Democrats to both agree that investments in the future of our children are necessary, it has finally happened. Granted, they may have different ideas on how to do it, but at least there is an acknowledgment that we have to invest in children.
The fact that both House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R–Va.) in remarks to the American Enterprise Institute and President Obama in his State of the Union address made it clear that children are, and should remain, a priority to our nation is something to be excited about. However, as parents, we now need to ensure that this is not simply talk. We have to hold our elected officials accountable for doing the hard work necessary for all of our nation’s children to thrive. That starts with ensuring that the arbitrary cuts scheduled for March 1 do not occur.
Those cuts, known as sequestration, will have a devastating impact on programs vital to the future of our children. Yesterday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified about the impact of these cuts on education. Education programs that serve our most vulnerable children would face severe cuts, with 1.2 million children losing access to additional educational supports through Title I and as many as 7,200 teachers and aides who work with disabled children at risk of losing their jobs. These are children who need assistance most, yet our elected officials are willing to leave them in the dark.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius also submitted a letter outlining the devastating impact that sequestration would have on Head Start and child care. She wrote that up to 70,000 children will lose access to Head Start programs, putting approximately 14,000 people out of work. Additionally, 30,000 children would lose access to their child care subsidy. This would be a particular hardship for their parents, who would be left to decide between putting their children in substandard care or losing their jobs.
Think about that for a second. Some people will have to choose between their child’s well-being and their job.
If you think it is deplorable that in our nation a parent should have to make that choice, then I urge you to text BUDGET to 62571 and join the NCLR Action Network so you can get information about our upcoming Week of Action, which starts February 19. We need to send a clear signal to our elected officials that they are playing with the lives of real children.
Join NCLR next week to remind the majority leader and the president that our children, the key to our nation’s economy and future prosperity, are counting on them to stop these harmful cuts.