Indiscriminate Budget Cuts at What Toll?

Feb 02, 2011

By Hannah Matthews

This post originally appeared on Feb. 2 on MomsRising.org.

The recent House proposal to slash domestic spending to 2008 levels would mean millions lost in funding for early childhood programs.

It's easy to give short shrift to this number when discussing it broadly and in the abstract. After all, there is wide agreement that balance needs to be restored to the federal budget. President Obama has called for a five-year freeze in domestic, non-defense discretionary spending and states are grappling with budget shortfalls and considering across the board cuts, including human services.

But when discussing balancing the budget and cutting programs, we shouldn't be contented to talk about it abstractly and across the board. Human services cuts have real impact on individual families' ability to secure all they need for their children to thrive.

More specifically, cuts to early childhood programs have implications for short- and long-term child and family well-being. At CLASP, we analyzed what would happen to child care funding, and the families that depend on these services, if the House plan moves forward. But that analysis seemed insufficient. We wanted to dig deeper and consider the impact on an individual family. We mapped out what would happen to a fictional family of three in Toledo, Ohio, with a household income of $27,000 per year, less than 150 percent of the current federal poverty level. If this family were lucky enough to obtain a subsidy, they would pay $200 a month for child care. Based on data from the National Association for Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), monthly costs for full-time care for an infant in Ohio average around $685. Without the subsidy, this family would have an increase of nearly $500 a month in child care expenses-more than three times what they were paying previously.

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