Raleigh, N.C. (June 10, 2013)– Action for Children North Carolina’s President and CEO Deborah Bryan made the following statement in response to the House subcommittee budget release:
“The budget proposals released last week by the House Appropriations Subcommittees are by and large an improvement over the Senate budget proposal released in May. The House proposes cutting fewer resources from K-12 education and most child-focused Health and Human Services divisions. However, the reductions in investment that are included in the House budget proposal — particularly on top of cuts sustained in recent years — would continue to erode our ability to protect our children’s basic health, education, safety and economic security.
The House Health and Human Services Subcommittee’s decision to follow the Governor’s lead in increasing NC Pre-K enrollment by 5,000 slots is a wise investment in our future, though we are concerned that the limitations placed on eligibility for the program would mean that many vulnerable children would not be served. We applaud House HHS leaders for including critical funding for infant mortality prevention, including funds for the Safe Sleep Campaign, and for the N.C. Child Treatment Program, for children dealing with trauma.
The proposal to allow the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force to sunset in 2014 is inexplicable. Since the Task Force’s inception in 1991, the laws it has carefully researched and proposed have saved the lives of thousands of children, through improvements in vehicle safety requirements, graduated driver’s license laws, investments in women’s prenatal health, SIDS education, professional development, funding for direct services, and more effective prevention and treatment of child abuse. The Child Fatality Task Force works. It has been preventing child deaths for more than 20 years, and we cannot afford to lose it.
House Education leaders’ proposal to create a voucher program in the state would draw much-needed funds away from the public school system. Given the high cost of private school, the amount of the voucher would not make it possible for low-income families to take advantage of the program, and the state would end up subsidizing upper-income students’ private school educations. While we are pleased to see investments in improving school safety, the focus on putting law enforcement officers in elementary and middle schools, rather than hiring more school psychologists, social workers and counselors, may be misguided. Experience has suggested that the presence of law enforcement officers in schools can result in harsher “zero tolerance” discipline policies, which do not seem to improve educational outcomes and often disproportionately affect children of color and children with disabilities.
The cuts to juvenile justice programs proposed by the Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee will further erode that Division’s ability to both protect and correct the youth in their care. Eliminating three key senior staff positions would create a vacuum of leadership in the Division. Closing so many youth facilities means that more youth will have to be housed in facilities farther away from their home communities. This approach runs counter to best practices, which suggest that youth are most effectively rehabilitated when they retain close ties with their families and communities. We applaud the decision of both the House and the Senate to include more funding for community prevention and treatment programs.”