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Will Congress Pay as Much Attention to Children as Airplanes?

Congress recently acted with uncharacteristic speed to undo the cuts to air traffic controllers implemented as part of the “sequester” (the across-the-board federal budget cuts), before flying home to their districts for a weeklong break. While making sure that the cuts did not cause them delays at the airport, they ignored the cuts that are affecting vulnerable women and children across the country. These include cuts to a range of crucial supports for families such as child care assistance and Head Start.

The National’s Women’s Law Center’s new fact sheet describes the importance of child care assistance in helping parents afford the care they need to work and support their families, and ensure their children are in safe, reliable care that fosters their learning and growth. Congress should be investing more in child care assistance, not chipping away at the help there is through arbitrary budget cuts.

Head Start, which provides comprehensive early care and education for poor infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, is also essential in supporting families and enabling children to get a strong start. The National Head Start Association is tracking the terrible effects of the sequester on Head Start, which could lose 70,000 children as a result of the cuts. The Coalition on Human Needs has also been collecting information from communities and states around the country about how the sequester is affecting Head Start as well as other programs that play an important role in helping children and families.

Perhaps children and families who rely on these early care and education programs will need to be at the airports when members of Congress head there for return trips to Washington. Because the airport seems to be the only place where Congress pays attention to the harm done by the sequester.

It's time for change, and we must act now. Time's up.