It’s Recess! Make Sure Your Senators and Reps Hear From You
Before heading out to a week at home during the March 21st–25th recess, Congress passed yet another short-term funding bill that would keep the government funded through April 8th while cutting $6 billion more from 2010 levels.
This latest continuing resolution (CR) does not contain any of the controversial policy changes that were in the long-term spending bill passed by the House (H.R. 1), but by continuing to cut an average of $2 billion per week, it in effect moves toward H.R.1’s goal of cutting $60 billion by the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2011. Read more about how H.R. 1 would impact babies here.
Pressure on Congress to reach a final agreement on 2011 spending is increasing, as many members are unhappy with this pattern of extending funding a few weeks at a time. The next three weeks are crucial, as the House and Senate try to negotiate an agreement to last through the rest of the fiscal year. Between now and April 8th, Congress will be deciding what the next CR will look like: how long it will last, how deep the cuts will be, and where they will come from. As they make these critical decisions, they need to know that their constituents will not support cuts that harm infants, toddlers, and their families.
Senators and Representatives will be at home next week, March 21st – 25th. Take action to show them just how many constituents oppose deep cuts that could harm infants and toddlers. Next week provides a prime opportunity to Be a Big Voice for Little Kids, as Senators and Representatives will be in their home states and districts for the March recess. Before they return to Washington to continue their budget negotiations, legislators not only need to hear from people in their states, they need to see that people care enough to turn out in support for children and families. It is particularly important to reach out to your Senators and reinforce the need to continue to oppose the cuts in H.R.1, which the Senate rejected last week. To find out how your Senators voted on H.R. 1, click here; on the Senate alternative, click here.
The message: Their constituents do not support balancing the budget on the backs of babies. Children’s programs should not be considered just another target for belt tightening. Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care should be protected as critical ingredients for a healthy national economy and for success of future generations. Congress must stand up for the needs of young children in America.
If Congress adopts cuts like those in H.R. 1, as many as 368,000 young children stand to lose their early childhood education opportunities through Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care. Many of their parents will be scrambling for alternative care arrangements to keep from losing their jobs. Other basic supports – such as nutrition for both pregnant women and young children, access to doctors, and housing assistance – would also face deep cuts, further jeopardizing the healthy development of young children.
WHAT CAN YOU DO???
Go to a public forum and ask a question. Call your Senator or Representative’s district office and ask whether any public forums, meet ‘n’ greets, or other events where constituents may participate are scheduled. Check their websites as well. Even if no events are scheduled, tell the person who answers the phone why you are calling! To find your elected officials and their contact information, and link to their official websites, click here.
What to say: Have a brief statement ready about who you are and why it’s important to preserve services for young children. Say “thanks” if your Senator voted against H.R. 1 and, if he or she voted against the Senate alternative, ask why it was so hard to stand up for children. Ask your senator whether s/he will oppose all cuts and other measures that limit the ability of young children to reach their potential and our nation’s ability to build a competitive workforce.
Coordinate with other state and local organizations or attend an event that they are planning. Check the organization’s website or give them a call to find out whether they have events planned and how you can participate. The [SAVE for All Campaign]http://www.chn.org/take-action/action-alerts/) has also compiled information about March recess activities.
Ask for a meeting in the Senator’s office. Get a group of children’s advocates, service providers, and parents to ask for a meeting at which you can explain why services to support the healthy growth and development of very young children are so important to our nation’s future.
Write a letter to the editor. If there is news coverage about an elected official, write a letter to either reinforce support for children’s programs or point out how short-sighted deep cuts to children’s services actually are. See our advocacy tool, “How to Write a Letter to the Editor and an Opinion Editorial.”
Plan a site visit. Invite your elected officials to visit a program next week or during the next recess, which will be April 19-29. See our advocacy tool, “How to plan a site visit.”
For more information on the federal budget, watch our budget videos!
For more resources on Head Start and child care, click here.
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Senator Murray receives the award for making babies and young children a national priority.