Kentucky Head Start, Child Care and Education Programs Facing Sequester Cuts, White House says

The automatic federal spending cuts set to take effect on Friday would pare several Kentucky programs that help families, including a child-care subsidy program that state officials have already cut back, says a state-by-state study from the White House.

The cuts—part of what officials call the sequester—would cause an estimated 1,100 Kentucky children to lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start, cut $7.7 million in funding for educating children with disabilities and cut $11.8 million for teachers in elementary, middle and high schools, the study said.

The report says that the Child Care Assistance Program—already facing drastic cuts because of a budget shortfall—would also lose funding, causing an estimated 500 additional children to lose access. But a spokeswoman for the Department for Community Based Services says the sequestration has already been factored into the program’s budget, meaning no cuts further cuts are expected.

Still, children’s advocate Terry Brooks said the sequester could be harmful for some children.

“For the vast majority of kids in Kentucky—let’s just be honest—the sequester is not going to have a dramatic affect,” said Brooks, executive director for Kentucky Youth Advocates.

“But for those kids who get impacted, I think they’re going to hit in multiple levels in multiple ways in a very short time period. So you’re really talking about a very traumatic timeframe for a small but highly vulnerable group of kids in Kentucky.”

The federal spending cuts would also affect vaccination programs, job search assistance and funding for clean water and air quality, among other programs, the White House report said. The full report for Kentucky is posted below.

Congress has until Friday to act before the cuts become official.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement that the president’s efforts on the automatic spending cuts are misdirected.

“What we still don’t know is whether the President has a plan for smarter, more commonsense cuts to the waste and endless growth in Washington,” McConnell said. “Surely, he can put forward a plan to cut 2-to-3 percent from a $3.5 trillion budget. Rather than issuing last-minute press releases on cuts to first responders or troop training or airport security, he should propose smarter ways to cut Washington spending. After all, Washington spending, even with the sequester, is bigger than it was when he got here.

“There are smarter ways to reduce the size of government. And with the national debt well over $16 trillion dollars, it’s time for the White House to stop spending all its time campaigning, and start finding smarter ways to reduce the deficit.”

For their part, the White House says that Obama “has put forward a balanced plan to not only avoid the harmful effects of the sequester but also to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion.”

Brooks said it’s difficult to discern what’s a true threat and what’s rhetoric.

But, he added, the cuts outlined in the White House report would affect some children more than once.

The Child Care Assistance Program, for example, currently assists low-income, working families with childcare expenses for an average of 42,000 children per month. Recently announced state cuts are expected to cut by 14,000 the number of children served. The automatic federal cuts outlined in the White House report would drop another 500.

Those same children may also get government assistance for vaccination programs, Brooks said. The White House report said funding for those programs in Kentucky would be reduced by about $92,000, and about 1,350 Kentucky children would lose access to those programs.

“As is so often the case, the folks who stand to loose the most are vulnerable children,” Brooks said.

We’ve reached out to Gov. Steve Beshear and others with questions on the White House report. We’ll update with more once we hear back. Update: Here’s a statement from the governor:

“Like many Americans, I am disgusted with D.C.’s continual dysfunction,” Beshear said. “Sequestration carries real and negative impacts for Kentucky families if DC.. fails to address it, including serious cuts to Kentucky’s classrooms. I urge the parties to put aside these political games and address this before these devastating cuts are enacted.”

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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