Major Coalition: Spending Cuts Will Do Real Harm to Our Children and Youth

Mar 09, 2011

CLASP joined nearly 60 other organizations at a news conference March 9 to tell Congress and the White House that proposed cuts included in the House-passed Continuing Resolution (HR 1) would harm hundreds of thousands of America's children and youth. The conference was sponsored by the Children's Leadership Council.

Kisha Bird, project director of the Campaign for Youth and senior policy analyst at CLASP, spoke about the importance of remembering that many programs facing big cuts help people access education and other opportunities. Below are excerpts of her remarks.

These programs "provide a solid foundation for low-income children. In many instances, they alleviate immediate hardship.These are the things that collectively make this nation stronger.  These are our shared values.

"Slashing billions from programs in many instances means slashing numbers served or slashing quality of needed programs that make a difference in the lives of children, youth and families. This isn't the conversation we should be having, and these aren't the choices we should have to make. Republicans and Democrats alike have said the budget shouldn't be balanced on the backs of the vulnerable. They should stand up and show they mean it.

In particular, HR 1 proposes to virtually eliminate funding employment and education training programs operated under the Department of Labor and authorized by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). It eliminates funding for WIA youth activities, DOL's Youthbuild program, re-integration of ex-offenders, as well as the green jobs innovation fund and the career pathways innovation fund. And it cuts job corps by more than $990 million which includes a decrease in FY 2010 funding and an additional rescission for FY 2010.

"Under HR 1 the workforce investment system would receive no allocation for this upcoming program year through WIA, which would result in a loss of services to more than a quarter of a million vulnerable youth.  U.S. Department of Labor programs for youth provide low-income and out-of-school young people access to important work experience, jobs, and educational activities - opportunities for youth employment and training that are critical to putting youth on a path to self-sufficiency.

"Research tells us that early work experience matters. The more teens work this year, the more they work next year and that less work experience today leads to less work experience tomorrow and lower earnings down the road.

"At a time when youth unemployment rates stand at an astounding 24.1 percent for youth ages 16 to 19 and 16.1 percent for youth ages 20 to 24, much higher than the overall national average of 8.9 percent, these programs are critical to their economic futures as well as the nation's."

Read Ms. Bird's full statement >>




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