February 7, 2003

White House Wages Budget War Against Poor Children

Bush Administration Budget Dismantles Head Start, Medicaid Cuts Child Care and After School Activities

WASHINGTON — “The Bush Administration is waging a budget war against poor children. This country has the resources to give every child the health care he or she needs, and to give every eligible child a Head Start if we make the right choices,” said Children’s Defense Fund

President Marian Wright Edelman. “Instead, the President chooses to give an average of $89,000 in tax cuts to each millionaire this year while dismantling Head Start and Medicaid, both of which have proven track records for helping to keep poor children healthy and getting them ready for school.”

The President’s new spending plan proposes to merge Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding to form a block grant that could threaten health care services for children, the elderly, and the disabled. The Administration’s budget also proposes to radically alter Head Start, the premier early childhood program for poor children, which has worked successfully for decades to prepare children to enter school ready to learn. About 600,000 children will also lose child care and after school services under the President’s 2004 budget.

Edelman said that the President’s plan calls for a tax cut for millionaires on the backs of children when we have the resources to make sure that every sick child has health care and to give all children what they need to arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.

Medicaid and CHIP provide essential services to nearly 30 million children in America. Administration plans to block grant Medicaid and CHIP funds will force some of these children to compete with seniors and people with disabilities for already inadequate resources and give states the authority to take needed health services away from children.

Head Start has helped over 20 million children develop the skills needed to succeed in school and move towards a productive future. The Head Start formula of comprehensive services coupled with high performance standards and parental and community involvement works. The Administration proposal would dismantle this formula for success and expose our most disadvantaged children to a new and untested social experiment rather than getting help to the millions of eligible children still not served by Head Start and Early Head Start.

Child care and after school activities are essential to help families work and keep children safe. Currently only one in seven children eligible for federal child care assistance gets help, and over 7 million children are left home alone after school each week.

Return to the Frontpage