The Governor’s proposed budget cuts to DHHS programs included significant cuts to Head Start, child care subsidies and the home visiting program. These important programs provide very distinct and important services to Maine’s families. The Governor’s proposal would:
- Cut 1 in 10 children currently enrolled in Head Start from the program. The majority of Head Start parents are working or in school, so this cut will result in low income families losing opportunities to increase their economic independence.
- Eliminate child care subsidies for half of the families currently receiving them. Parents in low wage jobs will be forced to have inconsistent and unstable child care arrangements, and may lose their jobs. Research has proven time and again that families are stronger and more self-sufficient when they have reliable, consistent child care. This proposed cut eliminates close to $6 million of federal money.
- Eliminate home visiting services for approximately 1,200 families. This proposed cut threatens a significant loss of up to $3 million federal dollars.
In addition, MaineCare coverage for 21,000 parents whose family income is between 100% and 200% of poverty would be eliminated. Healthy families are what make the difference for a child’s well-being. When parents have access to physical and mental health services they are better able to care for their children.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN AUGUSTA?
The early childhood community turned out in force at the public hearings held December 14th, 15th and 16th, 2011 at the State House. Members of the Appropriations and Health and Human Services committees heard compelling stories from and about people who depend on the important programs and services threatened with elimination or significant reduction. The Maine Children’s Alliance provided testimony in opposition to the cuts that would affect not only young children but older children, young adults and families as well. MCA believes these cuts are so very deep and pervasive that they will decrease the quality of life for children and Maine communities.
The December hearings were just the beginning of a budget process. The Appropriations Committee and the Health and Human Services committee have begun work on trying to fully understand all the proposed cuts and the impact on Maine citizens. Maine has always been forward thinking when it comes to ensuring that our state budget works to reflect our shared values and priorities – a shared concern for the common good. And we have met challenges, even in tough economic times; by making sure those values guide our decisions. We ask you to join us in letting your legislators know you support these important programs.
We encourage you to make your opinion heard. There are a number of ways you can get involved:
- Contact members of the Appropriations and the Health and Human Services committees and express your support for these early childhood programs. We have developed two template letters that can be adapted for your individual perspective.
- Use those same templates to encourage others to contact their representative and senator, telling them about the importance of early childhood programs.
- Here are links to the committee membership list as well as how to find your Senator or Representative:
- Submit a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or post information on Facebook.
For more information or assistance drafting letters to legislators or the media, contact Judy Reidt-Parker: email@example.com or 623-1868 ext. 210