We are more than two weeks into the federal government “shutdown.” The negative consequences of the shutdown for children and families across the country are very real.
Essentially, when the new fiscal year began on October 1, there was no money for most programs that have to be funded annually by Congress. This partial shutdown occurred because Congress wasn’t able to agree upon and pass the annual appropriations bills that fund federal agencies and programs by the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2013). Congress is still working to pass a Continuing Resolution bill that would provide funding for fiscal year 2014 and reopen the government. However, significant differences between Democrats and Republicans in Congress have delayed a solution.
While we wait for Congress to act, children and families across America continue to suffer. Earlier this year, programs that support families were hit by across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration. These cuts already put great strain on household budgets and led to tens of thousands of families losing access to child care assistance and Head Start programs.
What does the shutdown mean for families receiving child care assistance through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)? It depends how long the shutdown continues.
In the short term, experts believe states have enough funding to continue their child care programs without interruption and child care programs can continue operating as usual. However, the longer the shutdown continues, the more pressure there will be on states’ reserves.
The clock is ticking. Congress must act. America’s families need Congress to re-open the government, pass funding bills for programs, like CCDBG assistance, that help parents work, children learn, and small businesses grow. Congress should know we are watching and expect them to act responsibly and not balance the budget on the backs of children and families.