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With Congress and the White House unable to reach a compromise, the “sequester” — $85 billion in across-the-board cuts to federal programs — took effect March 1st. Due to the cuts, North Carolina will lose this year alone:

• $25 million in K-12 education funding, meaning 38,000 fewer students can be served

• Head Start and Early Head Start services for about 1,500 children

• Access to child care for up to 1,300 low-income children

• Basic vaccinations for 3,550 children

• Nearly $1 million in funds to help respond to public health threats

• And more

As child advocates, we will need to remain vigilant in watching and reporting on these cuts. Because they are scheduled to take place at different times over the next few months, all the pain will not be felt right at first. These cuts will cause hardship for North Carolina’s families over the long haul.

The next step in Congress is a bill to prevent a government shutdown, when the current spending resolution expires near the end of March. The House has already put forward a plan for consideration that would make the sequestration cuts permanent, at least through September, the end of this fiscal year. The Senate is expected to take up this continuing resolution next week.

These cuts are harmful to children, and harmful to families. We must continue to remind our leaders in Washington that a budget is a list of priorities, and our priorities are the health, education, safety and economic security of our children.

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