While the world won’t end with the sequester (across the board Federal budget spending cuts) taking effect today, it will disproportionately affect women and Latina/os. Among the legally-mandated cuts to take place will be the implementation of forced furlough days for government employees in the coming months. Yet, according to the National Women’s Law Center, cited in The Hill’s February 28 article by Mike Lillis titled, “Pelosi, female Dems warn of sequester’s effect on women:”
“57 percent of public sector jobs are held by women, who will consequentially be hit hardest by cuts to public programs.”
WIC and child care
As many as 600,000 children and pregnant mothers could lose access to food, health care and nutrition education from the special supplemental nutrition assistance program known as WIC, according to ThinkProgress.org, a blog project of the nonpartisan Center for American Progress Action Fund. An estimated 30,000 children from families with low-incomes will lose essential Federal funding for child care. 52,000 children will lose their child-care subsidies; 20% of those receiving the subsidy are Latino, according to the National Journal - The Next America.
Forty-two percent of WIC participants are Latino.
Head Start and Title I funds
Head Start Early Childhood Education would be among the programs most devastated by the cuts. 70,000 kids will be cut from Head Start preschool programs. Over a third of all preschoolers in Head Start are Latino. Fourteen thousand, mostly female, educators and staff could face job losses. Research clearly demonstrates that the most important developmental years for children is ages 0 to 5.
Over one million children will lose extra reading and math help supported by Title I funds. Thirty-seven percent of Latino school children attend high-poverty schools that receive that funding.
270,000 job-training slots for young people and adults will be lost. Thirty percent of youth enrolled in Federal job-training programs are Latino.
125,000 people will lose their federal rental subsidy. Fifteen percent of those receiving the subsidy are Latino.
What makes investment in these groups important
In addition to the negative impact the sequester will undoubtedly have on women, women still earn $.77 for every dollar a man earns. This means that women are generally at a disadvantage in this country economically, particular single mothers. In metro Denver in 2012, 37.7% (up from 36% in the prior year) of the homeless population consists of single parents with children under the age of 18, according to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative's Point-in-Time annual study.
According to the Pew Research Hispanic Center, 23.1% of all children ages 17 and younger in the United States are Latino. Latino individuals account for more than half the increase of the nation’s growth in the past decade.
Now, one could ignore these significant statistics, but it would not be prudent or intelligent to do so, if the goal is to get the country out of the prolonged recession going on now for over four years. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representatives that this gridlock is not constructive, no matter what your view on politics is, no matter how complex, how simple, how Republican, how Democratic or how Libertarian. Today takes stubbornness one step too far, bringing into effect cuts that are short-sighted and cuts the United States can’t afford to make.
“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” – Thomas Jefferson