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Column: Sequester – Gone, But Not Forgotten – Hits Sioux Falls Families, Head Start

Students LaughingSIOUX FALLS – Thanks to Congressional Republicans’ infantile unwillingness to consider any tax revenue increases during the failed sequester negotiations, 73 working class Sioux Falls families are now faced with a terrible decision.

Sequester cuts forced on the Head Start program have translated into the elimination of the program that allows low-income parents to have full day pre-school at a private daycare provider. The consequences of this for the parents of the 73 Sioux Falls children enrolled in that program are tantamount to a personal financial crisis.

The people who qualify for this program are the poorest of the poor, and often, but not always, single parents. The full day, year round program allows those parents to work or go to school full-time, which is necessary if there is to be any hope of their financial situation improving.

Without this program, these families options now include: 1. enrolling their children in traditional Head Start’s half-day, school year only program that starts back up in August, 2. paying full price at the private daycare centers where the children have been attending, which is probably cost prohibitive, and 3. making other arrangements, which sounds innocuous, but is probably the most dangerous in the long term.

While the prospects of either having to pay for childcare that they were getting for free, or having to reduce their hours at work or school amounts to a financial strain on parents who are in no place to afford it, they are not the worst part of the problem. The sad truth is that the children of low-income parents are more likely to be below average academically when they enter kindergarten, more likely to never catch up with their classmates, and more likely to still be below average if/when they finish the 12th grade.

Head Start was designed to help prevent this vicious cycle from repeating before the children involved become low-income parents themselves. This is why the “make other arrangements” approach mentioned earlier is so pernicious. Parents might be able to cobble together some babysitting on the cheap that covers enough time for them to keep up their full-time schedule, but that isn’t going to prepare those kids the way Head Start would have.

The sequester has done nothing to help our economy, and has caused unnecessary pain for people who can least afford it. When our politicians lack the will to protect the services that we the people need and make those who can afford to pay foot a larger portion of the bill, it costs our whole society in the long run.

There is no good reason why any of this had to occur. What we have here is 73 more reasons to hold politicians accountable for choosing wealthy donors over America’s interests.

Column: War in Perpetuity

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.

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