Study: Federal cuts affect programming for children

Erin Smith Staff writer

July 12, 2014

ELIZABETHTOWN — A report was recently released that shows federal spending on children has decreased over time. The report issued, called Children’s Budget 2014, was produced by N.C. Child: The Voice for North Carolina Children and looks at 180 programs including education.

Some of the federal programs the study looks at are child welfare, early childhood programming, and education, to name a few.

According to the report, the federal government 2104 allocation for child welfare was 49 billion a decrease of 12.6 percent during the years 2010-14, but is actually an increase over fiscal year 2013 of 0.4 percent. The federal allocation for early childhood programming for 2014 was $15 billion, a decrease of 6.2 percent for the period 2010-14, but is actually an increase over FY 2013 spending of 7.8 percent. The federal allocation for for education, according to the report, was $38.6 billion for 2104, a decrease of 15.1 percent during the years of 2010-14, but is actually an increase in spending over FY 2013 by 1.6 percent.

According to the report, the federal government spends “just eight cents of every dollar on children.” Something that has not gone unnoticed locally.

Bladen County Schools Public Relations Officer Valerie Newton said that federal officials have been trying to the North Carolina Pre-K program from the public domain, i.e. the school systems, to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The program is currently still administered through the school system,” said Newton.

She said the focus of the school system’s Pre-K programming and that of DHHS is very different. Newton explained that while both programs do offer an academic piece, the DHHS program is more socially and emotionally focused while that offered by the school system is more academically focused with some social and emotional components.

Newton said budget cuts that occur at the federal level affect the number of slots available for students to participate in the program.

Newton said currently, the program offered by the school district has been flat.

“We’ve been able to maintain the number of slots available,” said Newton of the Pre-K program in Bladen County.

She said currently, the staff at Bladen County Schools are waiting to see what the final numbers are in the federal and state 2014-15 budget to finalize the education local budget. Newton said the local schools can use some types of federal dollars to fund a few teacher positions. Currently, the district is waiting to learn the final number of teacher allotments for Bladen County, said Newton.

A message left for Lilian Bryant of Bladen County Smart Start seeking comment was unreturned as of press time.