Voices’ Blog

Don’t let Virginia’s families slide in to sequestration

Posted:  -  By: Voices for VA's Kids

As the end of February looms we are hearing more of that dreaded, awful word- “sequestration”. What is sequestration? It is a provision of the federal budget, that unless new revenue is found, or other targeted cuts are made, discretionary programs at the federal level will be cut across the board. This means programs will be cut without regard to the number of children or families receiving services, or individuals employed. Unless Congress agrees to stop the sequestration before March 1st, these across the board cuts will take effect and many programs will be left scrambling to make up the difference.

What are discretionary programs and why does this only impact discretionary programs? You may have heard a lot about how the defense industry will be impacted by sequestration because defense contracts and materials are in the discretionary budget. Many programs impacting children and families are also in the discretionary budget, most notably Head Start, child care assistance, and special education. The current proposal would not impact mandatory programs such as Medicaid/FAMIS and SNAP (food stamps).

Will these cuts take effect immediately if sequestration goes into effect? Although it will be a very tenuous time for all programs that could be impacted by sequestration, we must be cautious and deter programs from implementing these cuts immediately as there may be additional budget negotiations before these cuts get passed down to programs.

Estimates point to as many 1000 preschoolers in Virginia would no longer have access to Head Start, over 300 jobs for Virginia special educators could be impacted and Virginia could lose nearly $1 million in Maternal and Child Health Block Grant funds. You can read more about how sequestration could potentially impact Virginia’s program’s for children and families here: Impact of sequestration on VA.

Daily Press: Thousands of children will be dropped from Head Start

NEW– There are revised estimates of what the impact on Virginia could be given the delay in implementation of sequestration to March 1st. This estimate from our partners at First Focus provides an overview of how Virginia could be impacted if sequestration goes into effect on March 1st. 2013 Sequestration Impact on Kids – Virginia

The White House has also produced estimates of the impact in Virginia using a slightly smaller estimate of the across the board cuts at 5%.

Of particular interest to children’s advocates, these estimates include how many children in Virginia could be impacted if the across the board cuts take effect.

– 400 -740 families could loose access to child care assistance

– Around 1,000 preschoolers could be cut from Head Start

– Schools, and students with disabilities in particular, could be impacted by cuts close to $28 million statewide

– 3,500 children could loose access to vaccines

– Close to 11,000 pregant women and infants could loose nurtition assistance through WIC

You Can Take Action To Avoid the Slide In to Sequestration

We also hope that you will take a moment to thank the 9 members of the Virginia delegation who have taken a united stand in opposition to sequestration. Those members are: Senators Warner and Kaine and Representatives Connelly, Forbes, Moran, Rigell, Scott, Wittman, and Wolf.

Please write to the four members of Congress who have not yet agreed to stand in the way of across the board cuts. They are Cantor, Goodlatte, Griffith and Hurt.

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