Kids, Cuts, and Consequences

How Cuts to Effective Programs Hurt Our Children

The Home for Little Wanderers recently commissioned a report by the independent, nonpartisan Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. Kids, Cuts and Consequences: How Cuts to Effective Programs Hurt Our Children clearly connects the well being of our at-risk children with public policy, good and bad.

Many of our children face multiple traumas that include neglect, abuse and abandonment. They hope for the comfort of a permanent, safe and welcoming home, though all too often this hope is dashed, delayed or denied. The report illustrates the avoidable consequences that child welfare agencies like The Home work with on a daily basis. Sadly, a leading advocate for tax cuts greeted the findings this way, “No matter how much you give these people it’s never enough!”

That said, in the years leading up to the recent economic downturn taxes were cut by $3 billion. But, between 2001 and 2005 subsidized childcare that helps low-income parents remain part of the workforce was cut by $36 million. Education spending, including remedial programs for kids who struggle with reading, writing and math, was cut by $311 million. The state’s voucher program that helps families find affordable housing was cut by $16 million. More than $5 million was cut from early intervention services for children with developmental delays.

Read the report — these cuts have had alarming consequences. The Department of Social Service was forced to lay off their entire foster care recruitment staff. As a result, state social workers are asked to do more with less in their critical effort to place children. When Beacon Hill cut per-pupil funding (more than any other state) the steady increase in MCAS scores slowed. Fourth grade English and math scores declined. When teen pregnancy prevention efforts were cut 38% in one year, teen birth rates climbed in a number of high-risk communities. We all know that more teen pregnancies lead to more children growing up in poverty, which in turn creates more homeless families.

Too often, cuts come with unintended consequences. It is important for all of us - taxpayers and legislators - to fully understand the ramifications of the shortsighted public policy actions illustrated in Kids, Cuts, and Consequences.

Click here to download a copy of the report or learn more.

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