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Pres. Trump puts child protections in the dump

Beneath the spectacle of it all, the impact of federal politics can feel a bit removed from the day-to-day lives of average Americans. But the provocative change agenda of the Trump administration is about to get very real for Pennsylvania families: the President’s budget takes aim at crucial programs and protections for children and its impact will be shocking.

President Trump has ordered federal agencies to slash $54 billion from their budgets to pay for a massive increase in Pentagon spending. A further $20 billion needs to be found for proposed increases in veterans services, border enforcement and anti-crime spending. This could mean vital programs will be slashed by at least 15% in just one year, according to a new report from the Coalition on Human Needs.

Details, we’re told, are to follow, but we know the administration is taking cues from the prominent conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, who advocates for the abolishment of Head Start by cutting 10% of funding every year over a decade until it zeroes out.

In Pennsylvania, of the nearly 64,000 children in high quality pre-k, about 26,000 are in Head Start seats. As popular as quality pre-k may be to both state parties, legislators, whose constituents and communities rely on this proven poverty fighter, have been unable to find new revenue sources. That means they already can’t keep up with the growing needs and demands of PA families, let alone bailing them out as Head Start seats disappear.    

Healthcare, the President recently observed, is “so complicated.” While block granting Medicaid means unprecedented rationing of healthcare for those like the growing number of working families who need it to cover their kids, another complication will strike at children with special needs. 

The Medicaid block grant proposal puts at risk $143 million that is currently used to meet the needs of special needs children who attend pre-k or public schools. Also in jeopardy are Early Intervention services for children under the age of five with developmental delays.

These are crucial supports for all parents and communities that we can not afford to lose. Nor can we risk having any of the almost half a million Pennsylvanians who have enrolled in Medicaid since 2013 lose access to basic healthcare. The rate of those uninsured in the state plummeted by 37% since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010. 

Nearly 20% of PA’s school funding comes from the federal government. A rumored 10% cut to Title 1 funding for low-income schools and federal special education funding would amount to $100 million that Harrisburg would have to pay. That’s money PA doesn’t have, leaving low-income children and children with disabilities to fend for themselves.

Every state is concerned how the tumult in Washington surrounding the nascent Trump administration and their provocative change agenda will affect things at home.  Here in Pennsylvania, we have a big reason to be extra concerned and exercise vigilance.

Amounting to more than one-third, federal funding makes up a larger than average share of our state budget. When the axe falls, the first thing on the state’s chopping block might be its largest line item, K-12 funding.

Frustrated by years of budget dysfunction in Harrisburg? Brace yourself—things are about to get way more “complicated.”

 

Too many children don’t have basic health insurance. That’s why we need your help to spread the word about our Give Kids a Smile Event.  

Find out more HERE about how you can help!

 

“HBCU’s are real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, seemingly unaware that black students did not choose to be shut out from segregated white schools when Historically Black Colleges and Universities were founded.

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“Last year I watched this Council come together and face down enormous pressure from a billion-dollar industry in order to better serve our children. I know that now, in the face of even greater threats from Washington and Harrisburg, we will come together again in order to serve those who depend on us.” Mayor Jim Kenney.

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