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Investing In and Not Cutting Programs for Children is Key to Our Economic Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2011
For More Information Contact:
Patti Hassler
Vice President for Communications and Outreach
202-662-3554 office
phassler@childrensdefense.org

 

“The proposed cuts in programs for children in the Continuing Resolution by the House Appropriations Committee are short sighted, will do little to balance the federal budget, will cut life and hope giving supports and will have a devastating impact on our children and the nation’s future ability to compete in the world economy. We should have a responsible, fair and balanced national conversation about reducing the deficit but the future of our children should not be sacrificed. We need to get our priorities right: to invest in babies ahead of bankers and to make tough choices based on real national security needs—our human capital,” Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, said today.

The greatest threat to America’s national security and our long-term economic well-being is the failure to protect, invest in and educate all our children right now. When more than 60 percent of all students in our public schools—all income brackets, all race and ethnic groups—cannot read or do math at grade level in the fourth, eighth and twelfth grades—and 25 percent drop out or do not graduate on time—our economic future is in peril. We cannot fix this problem by chopping over a billion dollars from special education for children with disabilities and other education for disadvantaged children and from programs like the 21st Century Community Learning Centers and the High School Graduation Initiative.

The Department of Defense is spending $1.9 billion a day. Just three days of defense spending would pay for critical programs for children the House Appropriations Committee currently has on the chopping block. Just one second of defense spending—$29,679.13—is more than a Head Start teacher earns in a year. Yet the proposal soon to be before the House cuts $1 billion from Head Start, which would eliminate jobs and leave more than 140,000 children without the quality early childhood experiences they need.

Saving children early and saving money go hand in hand. But the House Appropriation Committee’s proposed cuts of almost $800 million to the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children are penny-wise and pound foolish as they would leave millions of children without the critical healthcare and nutrition for a healthy start in life.

If we could help out bankers again at the end of last year by extending tax cuts on their overseas profits we certainly can help out babies who without these special supports will see their hopes and dreams for a better life wiped out. Giving children their basic human rights to adequate nutrition, health care, and education should be a no brainer. If those tax cuts for bankers’ overseas profits were eliminated it would pay for many children’s programs the House Appropriations Committee would cut.

Especially in this time of high unemployment, when young people have been disproportionately left out of the job market, we need to support effective job training programs. YouthBuild, Job Corps, and other programs in the Corporation for National and Community Service should not be cut as all are helping our young people to be able to compete for jobs today and tomorrow. As Congress argues over budget cuts in the weeks and months ahead, we must make sure this round of belt tightening reflects our values as a people and as a nation. These proposed cuts do not.

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