Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Sequester's Effect on Women and Children

A major concern behind all the budget fighting happening over on Capitol Hill is what impact it will have on women's programs, which also includes those federal-funded programs that support child care, immunizations and health screenings. Now that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) recently passed the House, the funds supporting it are expected to take a big hit as well. 

 VAWA was initially passed under the Clinton Administration in 1994. It protects women from domestic and sexual abuse and gives them the right to pursue legal recourse against their abusers. The law also protects abused men as well. Since its passage, the Act has been reauthorized by Congress three times and each time Republicans have challenged several of its provisions. The latest debate stems from whether the protections granted by the Act should extend to gays, illegal aliens and Native Americans.

Here is a run down of the expected damage:
  • About 112,000 domestic abuse victims will not have access to shelters or programs.
  • Nearly 64,000 victims will be denied access to legal and housing services, as well as sexual assault services, counseling, and protective orders.
  • New programs that were expected to be funded will be compromised.
  • Programs that targeted children of domestic abuse victims will be cut as well.
With respect to those child care programs expected to get hit hard by the budget cuts, Head Start comes in first place. This is a travesty for those low-income working mothers who rely on the program's services to put food on the table. The Health and Human Services Dept estimates that 70,000 children will be denied child care. If this potential dilemma doesn't push a consensus on a budget deal, I can't really see what will. Children's lives are at stake, folks.

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