The Looming Threat of “Sequestration”—Automatic Cuts to Head Start, Child Care and Foreign Aid

Meredith Dodson, Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns
October 02, 2012

Congress is now on recess, after passing a Continuing Resolution to fund annually-appropriated programs including Head StartEarly Head Start, and child care until March 2013. The good news? This package fits within the spending caps included in the Budget Control Act or BCA (rather than the House Republican Budget).

However, essential jobs and services such as early childhood programs, foreign aid, education, public health, the WIC program, and other services face additional deep cuts this January. In Washington, these programs are collectively referred to as “non-defense discretionary” or simply “NDD” programs. As a component of the BCA, on January 2, 2013 NDD programs will face devastating, across-the-board cuts of 8.2 percent through an arcane budget tool known as "sequestration." NDD programs represent a relatively small and shrinking share of the federal budget and our overall economy — already reduced to levels not seen since President Eisenhower held office. They are not the drivers of the debt. In fact, completely eliminating all NDD programs would not balance the budget, yet NDD programs have borne the brunt of deficit reduction efforts. If Congress fails to create a bipartisan, balanced approach to deficit reduction and the sequestration is allowed to take effect, core services upon which Americans have come to rely will be greatly curtailed or even eliminated — approximately 100,000 children would lose Head Start and 80,000 children would lose child care as a result.

RESULTS believes that we need a balanced approach in order to avoid sequestration, balance the budget and restore the nation’s economic stability, which must includes substantial new revenue.

TAKE ACTION: Call Congress or use RESULTS’ online alert to urge Congress to protect and strengthen Head Start and child care for millions of low-income children in 2013 as a part of a bipartisan, balanced approach to deficit reduction. And, we urge you to speak up in your local media by tailoring our early childhood and budget letter-to-the-editor templates, and check out our other actions to put child care on the map for Congress