Sunday, 13 October 2013

Children’s Defence Fund urge Americans to protect children and uphold their right to education during the current federal shutdown

by Simone Knights, HRPL Blog, International Nongovernmental Organisations Editor
Children's Defense Fund: Be Careful What You Cut, Homeless

The repercussions of the federal government’s shutdown in America has had a dramatic impact on America’s poorest children. The Children’s Defence Fund, an independent children’s organisation, has an ongoing campaign called “be careful what you cut”. This is a campaign against the cuts to the educational deficit, which if continue would leave the poorest children in the United States without early education.

The most recent concern of the Children’s Defence Fund, is the impact the government shutdown in America has had on education. With 90% of the U.S. Department for Education on leave of absence, funding for Americas poorest children has been delayed. This funding comes from the federal programme ‘Head Start’. This programme is specifically designed to help young children from low-income backgrounds develop cognitive, social and emotional development. 

The Government shutdown began on the 1st October 2013. It has been reported that by the 4th October five ‘Head Start’ chapters had been forced to close due to lack of funding, impacting an estimate of 5,000 children. This has also impacted the workers of the ‘Head Start’ programmes, as due to the temporary closing workers have been sent home without pay. 

Head Start programmes continued to be at risk of closing. However, the Arnold Foundation have announced a sum of $10 million to be given away, so those chapters that have already closed, and those at risk of closing, can stay open during the federal shutdown. In their statement they stated they have given this money “in an effort to address this injustice” and that, “it is especially unfair that young children from underprivileged communities and working families pay the price for the legislator’s collective failures”. 

On a sheer matter of policy - is it an example of "social justice", that there has been a requirement put on anyone but the government, to fund the early education of America’s poorest children? Furthermore, is it justice that individuals are paying to uphold the right to an education due to the shutdown?

The Children’s Defence Fund (CDF) are a non-profit advocacy organisation, which specialise in the rights of children. They bring awareness and champion policies that aim to get children out of poverty, protect children from abuse and neglect and ensure access to healthcare and education. Their ‘mission statement’ is leave no child behind. They report that every 29 seconds a child is born into poverty in America, and they aim to influence the public policies of America towards children, by looking at what every child should have as a basic right. For example, food, education and health care. 

One of their campaigns is “be careful what you cut”. This takes many forms to bring awareness and pressurise the American government to stop the cuts that have already taken place on education. These include a CDF budget principles document, which then intertwines with a letter to that person’s local congress, urging them to re-evaluate the budget cuts already made, and support an appeal against those that have already taken place. 

Due to the cuts already made, 97% of eligible infants and toddlers are not served/educated by ‘Head Start’ due to lack of funding. CDF also have a campaign to use Facebook and twitter to show support for the “be careful what you cut” campaign. Which involves using one of the images representing the campaign as a profile photo. They also urge supporters to reach out to one of their local print publications, asking for a donated space, and choose an add to spread awareness of the impact the cuts are having on America’s poorest children.

To help raise awareness of the important work of the Children's Defense Fund, please see:  

Further Sources: