Time is running out for Congress to come up with a deal to cut the federal deficit. Without a deal by Friday, some $85 billion in automatic cuts will begin happening.
Among other things, it could jeopardize programs that serve area kids.
The White House is warning that this impasse will threaten thousands of jobs and vital services. In Illinois and Iowa, that could wipe out Head Start and child care for thousands of families.
Nearly three-fourths of the families attending P and J Tender Care in Moline and Rock Island receive assistance. But Illinois hasn’t made a payment since September. That leaves its Pre School for All program on the chopping block.
“A lot of our parents are single moms,” said Shawna Kerr, who directs the Moline center. “If they cut services, our children aren’t going to be able to come to the center.”
Without a last-minute deal, the White House warns in a state-by-state report that nearly 2,700 Illinois kids will miss out on Head Start. More than 1,000 at-risk kids could lose access to child care. That’s important for working parents to keep a job.
“The kids are the future,” said teacher Sarah Chavez. “If you take things from our kids, how are we supposed to get them ready for the future?”
But Republicans like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal say it’s time for the White House to stop scaring the American people. He suggests tweaking health care reforms as a starting point.
Yet with days before the deadline, the proposed federal cuts could hurt those who need help the most. That would be especially tough on local kids.
This center already knows about delinquent state payments. Adding federal money to the list could just make matters worse. That sparks a warning from those serving the children.
“When they get older and take care of us, our government is going to be in more shambles than it is now,” Kerr said.
Reason enough for a call to action to seal a deal before it’s too late.
“You could take it from anywhere else,” Chavez concluded. “But don’t take it from your kids.”