On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Senate voted 56 to 44 against billions of dollars in federal cuts that would have decimated Head Start enrollment and eliminated a number of other programs.
The cuts were passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in late February. Along with the proposal, the Senate voted down another budget bill, put forth by Republicans, that had lesser cuts.
Even so, the drastic cuts under consideration are a sign that many programs may have to scale back once Congress hammers out a compromise budget.
The Children’s Leadership Council, a coalition of 57 children’s advocacy groups from around the country, convened a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning to detail what would happen if the budget bill passed:
*$1.1 billion in Head Start and Early Head Start cuts, which would lead to 218,000 children losing services (including 61,000 spots lost due to the stimulus funding cliff). Currently, Head Start serves 965,000 students nationwide.
In Illinois, more than 9,600 children would be without Head Start or Early Head Start spots, and more than 2,000 adults would lose jobs associated with the program.
*A $39 million cut to the Child Care Development Block Grant, which could put 14,000 children in Illinois at risk of losing child care.
*A number of cuts that would affect funding for school-based health centers. The group estimates that half of the school health centers in the U.S. would have to close.
*A $5.7 billion cut to Pell Grants, amounting to nearly one-quarter of current funding, that is expected to reduce the maximum award by $800 per student and make nearly one-fifth of current Pell Grant recipients ineligible to participate.
*A $2 billion, 52-percent cut to Workforce Investment Act programs for youth, which would affect an estimated 13,100 young people in Illinois.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Illinois would also stand to lose $48.7 million in Title I funding and nearly $38 million in School Improvement Grant funds, used for turnaround schools.
The proposed cuts would also have eliminated the Teacher Quality Partnership grant program, which provides funding to the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program, Illinois State University’s Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Governors State University, and National-Louis University, as well as collaborative teacher education projects that involve Loyola University-Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University.
Those programs are in the clear for now — but many could be back on the chopping block within a few days. The current continuing resolution expires on March 18, so Congress is under pressure to find a budget compromise in order to avoid a government shut-down.
In the last continuing resolution that was signed into law, Congress eliminated federal funding for a number of literacy programs and small learning communities grants, as well as set-aside funding for Teach for America and New Leaders for New Schools. Funding for these programs is not expected to be restored.