Poor Families Taking a Hit From Government Shutdown

Federal government sticks it to the poor as programs that low-income families depend on face the impact of the shutdown.

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The Shreveport Times, Shane Bevel/ AP Photo

Bryan Gates, left, and Chelsey Walker compare their letters during class at the Eddie D. Jones Head Start Center in Shreveport, La.

A certain shutdown narrative has become all-too-familiar: It is holding us back from gazing at the National Zoo’s pandas throughout the day and perusing the halls and walkways of our national museums and parks.

But for millions of the nations poor, the situation could soon be far more serious, and simply moving a gate or clicking on a link to another video won’t solve their problems.

Though many of the programs that provide assistance to needy families and individuals like food stamps, Medicaid, and Medicare will continue running during the shutdown, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is barely holding on.

The nearly $7 billion dollar program that provides access to food, formula, nutritional education, breast-feeding support, and health-care referrals to 9 million poor mothers, babies, and children is having to rely on $125 million in contingency funds from the USDA to continue operating throughout the month.

Douglas Greenaway, the president of the National WIC Association, a D.C. based nonprofit, calls the money a “sneeze” and warns that clinics will be forced to close their doors and end benefits if normal funding doesn’t resume by the end of the month.

(MORE: Empty Hotel Rooms and Canceled Shows: How the Shutdown Damages D.C.)

“This [shutdown] has created a level of uncertainty in the lives of already vulnerable families,” Greenaway told TIME. “We’re doing everything on a temporary basis. This is not the way to efficiently run a program like WIC.”

Tiffanie Peters, a participant in the WIC program in Ohio and a mother of four, told TIME she rushed out to gather produce and baby food for her 6-month-old on Thursday because she doesn’t know when the vouchers she received for the month will no longer be accepted.

“I’m worried,” said Peters, who gets about $75 a month to buy the right foods she needs to provide healthy breast milk to her baby. “[WIC] keeps our cycle of life continuing.”

Fifty-three percent of all infants born in the U.S. rely on WIC, according to the National WIC Association and participants in some states have already faced the reality of going without the services.

In Utah, clinics had already closed their doors and stopped enrolling new participants before receiving the emergency funds from the USDA, which amount to $2.5 million, according to the Utah Department of Health. The program serves about 66,000 moms, babies, and kids in the state.

Jennifer McCreedy, a 38-year-old single-mom of one in Chestertown, Md. who participates in WIC, says though the program has funding available, she is still anxious.

“I’m still fearful, I keep thinking to myself, ‘Should I go and cash all of these checks? Should I load up on groceries so I’m covered?” said McCreedy in a phone call with TIME. “There is no way I would have been able to afford formula for my child without WIC…I think the women who depend on WIC for formula will be hurt the most.”

(MORE: House Moves Towards Supporting Backpay for Federal Employees)

Another program that’s beneficial to low income families is Head Start, which already suffered a 5% cut in funding because of the sequester. Twenty-three Head Start programs in 11 states have grant cycles that began on Oct. 1, leaving 19,000 kids at risk of losing Head Start services due to the shutdown. About 5,354 children are already out of school because five programs have already closed their doors due to a lack of funding, according to the National Head Start Association.

Jonathan Bines, the Head Start director of the Five County Child Corporation, which services 900 kids in Mississippi, was one of the many directors of Head Start programs who had to halt educational services to low-income kids at the beginning of the week.

“We’re backed against a wall. We don’t have any funding to provide support, ” Bines told TIME. “A lot of parents are frustrated because some of them are saying the option to provide day care [is] pretty much impossible. Others said they just started a job and don’t have anyone to depend on to help.”

Bines says he has spent the past couple of days apologizing to parents though, he adds, there was nothing he could do other than warn parents on Monday that schools would have to close.

Families whose household income is at or below 100% of the federal poverty line are eligible for Head Start services, which provide educational and nutritional support to kids ages 3 to 5. For a family of four, that’s an annual income of about $23,500.

Hannah Matthews, the director of Child Care and Early Education for CLASP, a D.C. based advocacy organization, says at a time when programs are already operating at marginal levels, the shutdown could cause lasting damage.

“Right now we don’t have the means to support critical developments in quality and professional development,” Matthews said. “That could have a larger impact on how we improve early childhood care in the future.”

Matthews adds programs that serve low-income Americans continue to get hurt in budget decisions.

“Congress needs to put together a budget that invests in our future,” Matthews said. “One that makes sure low income families are not bearing the toughest burden of budget cuts.”

Bines agrees. “I’m watching the news and I see that Congress is trying to pick areas to fund back and I’m trying to figure out, what about children and families?” he said. “Seems like that’s not a top priority in terms of funding. Where do we place value in our nation? Is it children and families or is it parks?”

MORE: Obama Mocks GOPer Who Wants ‘Something’ From Shutdown

63 comments
TeresaPurdham
TeresaPurdham

i know there are people out there that need help and to just get cut off is crazy ,but i wonder how we survied when i was young or bringing up mine i had fs but no wick and when my daughter went to school i was cut and told get a job so i did i guess people going to have to learn to stand on there own two feet.

roastpuppy
roastpuppy

The Head Start and WIC programs should be cut completely. If people don't have sufficient money to feed and provide medical care for children, they shouldn't have children. If people are such losers they must depend on the government for the cognitive, social and emotional development of their children, then they shouldn't have children. I realize both Head Start and WIC is "supposed" to be for the benefit of children, but it is a never-ending cycle and within a few years, the children benefiting from these programs today will be expecting the government to provide similar services for their children. If all these "give away" programs were drastically cut, it wouldn't be long before women started accepting responsibility for their actions and either started using birth control or stopped spreading their legs for every man who comes along! The acceptance of "single mothers" is one of the worst things that has happened to the US, Canada and Western Europe and as long as these programs continue, we are just perpetuating the problem!

jmac
jmac

"Federal government sticks it to the poor . . "   Who?  Who is sticking it to the poor?  Who?  

WHO?????   They're are two parties in Congress.  Who is sticking it to the poor?   

pissedamericanworker
pissedamericanworker

number 1 dont have kids if you cant afford them number two no farm subsidies just makes milk more expensive number 3 food prices are getting nuts for the workers because the snap people dont care what they pay for food its easy come easy go number 4 no more welfare buying car tires and car repairs for the single moms looking for a job let them walk they need the exercise did anyone notice how overweight this class of americans is getting these days number 5 the people working in america need some free obama gas to get to work how bout that novel idea

SandyLester
SandyLester

Why? These programs are all considered essential, this story is just garbage.

SandiBurkhartMutchler
SandiBurkhartMutchler

The GOP cares nothing about the poor.  They would just as soon exterminate them like bugs. The Republicans still want to defund, delay or otherwise chip away at Obamacare in exchange for funding the government. But the health care act at the center of this storm would continue its implementation process during a shutdown. That's because its funds aren't dependent on the congressional budget process.  Obamacare, or as it should be called, The Affordable Health Care Act is a law that was upheld by the United State Supreme Court.  This shut down shows how truly crazy the Tea Baggers are!  Veteran GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona noted that any attempt to repeal Obamacare was going to fail because of Obama's veto, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate to overcome. And GOP Rep. Peter King of New York said the problem is tea party conservatives tied to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas who "really care about nothing but their own agenda" driving the Republican approach in the House.  The GOP has a "civil war" within it's party, and it is going to turn disastrous on them in the net election because many voters cannot distinguish who is in the Tea Party and who is not in the Republican Party.

j45ashton
j45ashton

JOHN BOEHNER, allow the House to vote on a clean CR.  It will pass WITH Republican support, and this over.  This is now just about JOHN BOEHNER.

Mr.Tibbs
Mr.Tibbs

According to a report this morning, President Obama told reporters the sequester cuts forced him to move his mother-in-law out of the White House. I wonder how the government shut-down will affect the first family. http://goo.gl/IOXmA6

Sabrina45959310
Sabrina45959310

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grape_crush
grape_crush

@firemedic307 @DavidStrayer> Wasn't it Reid who said basically, "Hey I'm not going to fund NIH so kids can get cancer treatment because there are alot of fat federal bureaucrats out of work"?

No.

What Reid actually said was: "What right did they [Republicans] have to pick and choose what part of government is going to be funded?"

The context right wing has selectively left out is that there are plenty of kids who are negatively impacted by the GOP's budgetary hostage-taking; what makes the lives of these 20-30 kids more important than the thousands who, say, won't be able to eat? 

The only reason this is important is because these cancer-stricken children are being used as a political cudgel by the House Republicans. If they actually gave a crap about children's health, they wouldn't have shutdown the government in the first place and they definitely wouldn't be trying to repeal or de-fund the Affordable Care Act. It's a disgusting tactic on the part of the GOP, using sick kids in an attempt to score some sort of political points. The House GOP's behavior is unacceptable.

Dana Bash asked a trap question, and unfortunately Reid walked right in to it...producing an context-less soundbite that right-wingers desperately needed in order distract from their own cretinous behavior.

"The problem with separating quotes from context is that the effort usually comes back to bite you. Before you know it, you end up being depicted as someone who has to invent controversy because you're no longer capable of debating on substance."

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

Thank you, Maya Rhodan, for writing about these victims of Republican psychopathy. Of course, this will mean that these poor souls will become even sicker and more dependent on government largess (something Republicans obviously hate) down the road. On the other hand, we could just let them die and decrease the surplus population.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

The Reps don't care , ALL politicians are getting paid .

paulejb
paulejb

The inevitable headline from liberal scribblers and talking heads.

WORLD TO END: POOR AND MINORITIES TO BE HURT MOST.

DavidStrayer
DavidStrayer

So the poor aren't doing so well with the government shut down?  They're probably not likely to do so well with the prospects of GOP-inspired cuts in food stamps, education, transportation, etc., etc., etc.

Don't bother telling this to Republicans, though.  Because they don't care.  

It's probably not news to you that the GOP doesn't care about the poor, or at least the less well off.  But the reasons for this are really two-fold.  One of these reasons those who are affected can change.  The other is part of the Republican culture.  

Reason #1 is that the poor, collectively, don't vote.  If they did, they might get at least some attention from the Republican party, even if it's only to try to prevent them from voting.  But, they collectively don't vote in the percentages that those of us who are more affluent vote.  This, of course, they can change.  The easiest way the disadvantaged can change what's going on is to vote.

Reason #2 is that the Republicans don't really care about anyone: poor, middle class, upper middle class, etc., ... unless they're really, really wealthy.  Then, the GOP takes notice.

So, all these articles about how those Americans who are disadvantaged are suffering may make nice copy, but they won't affect a single Republican Congressman or Senator.  

Because, THE GOP DOESN'T CARE.  

SakeetaRosen
SakeetaRosen

@TeresaPurdham And how old are you? All the people who are in their 40s and 50s, need to shut up. Back in those days, teens could easily get jobs while they were in school. Now, you cant get a job even if you go to college. 


The times have CHANGED and apparently people cant grasp that. Standing on your own two feet is impossible whenever no one will even give you the opportunity to do so.

My bf has tried to get tons of jobs, every one they dont care if you went to COLLEGE, you need previous experience.

To work at McDonalds, he has to have previous experience AND has to speak some Spanish. Its freaking McDonalds!

TeresaPurdham
TeresaPurdham

@roastpuppy and men need to share in the resposibilty and cover it up or dont use it takes two ya know

ChrisGeopon
ChrisGeopon

Spoken like a typical misinformed Republican.

SakeetaRosen
SakeetaRosen

@pissedamericanworker Also, what about the people who were already pregnant, in a great marriage, happily awaiting their baby... when all of a sudden, their husband gets laid off cause the company goes under, and all their money is gone... how is that their fault? 

What do you expect them to do, get rid of their child? You are a very very sad person.

SakeetaRosen
SakeetaRosen

@pissedamericanworker Also, you cant just say to not have kids if you cant afford them. A person never knows if they are going to get pregnant. There are tons of people who have dated for a long time, always using protection, but then the condom breaks or something and BAM they are pregnant. 

Its happened tons of times, hence why there are a lot of teen moms and dads. Its not that we are irresponsible, its not that we arent careful. Its just, we are pretty dang fertile, and even a slight tear in a condom, WHILE taking birth control, can get you pregnant.

SakeetaRosen
SakeetaRosen

@pissedamericanworker Excuse me, we do care what we pay for food. We only get a certain amount each month, and if we use all of it up, theres nothing left for anything. We never even have enough for food. Unlike that irresponsible barney person, we never had a whole bunch of money to begin with.

We are in this situation cause my grandpa all of a sudden died. We were living off his 2,000 a month, cause we were living with him and taking care of him. My dad is disabled, so he cant work, and SS only gives 600 a month.

My mom couldnt work, cause she was a full time caregiver for my grandpa, AND she was trying to raise me. Both my grandmas died in the same year, when I was 2 and a half, just three months apart. The shock made my grandpa have really bad Alzheimer's. All we could do is just take care of him. 

We eventually we able to send him to adult day care, but only two days a week. My mom tried getting a job, for years, but everyone said they didnt want a person for just two days a week. Its not her fault, shes an accountant, she went to college.

People are handed bad deals in life, not all people have put themselves in the situation they are in.

Its sad how ignorant and arrogant you are. I'm actually GLAD that my family struggles, because at least I know what its like to not have anything. At least I know what GRATITUDE is, and I know that poor people are not just lazy low lifes.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@pissedamericanworker Classic conservative response. My wife and I made over $100K a year for a decade, then our business which depended on the housing industry tanked in 09 and we went broke. Should we have sold our kids? I mean we couldn't really afford them for almost 2 years. Maybe we should have just "gotten a job"? Of course, why didn't we think of that back then? We should have just sold our kids and taken jobs at Burger King pissedamericanworker.  Instead, we stupidly used government subsidies where we could, started a new business, and slowly built that up to almost where we were before....where we're paying nearly as much in taxes as we would be bringing home in income if we had just "gotten a job". 

SandyLester
SandyLester

@SandiBurkhartMutchler This shut down belongs to obama and Reid. The house passed and sent a fifth CR to the senate fully fund obamacare and the government plus remove special enhancements for congress regarding obamacare IE substdies and exemptions 

Senate voted NO The dems and obama own this.

scott.frix
scott.frix

The Tea Party has driven almost every moderate Republican out of the party, politicians and voters. These are the people who would vote for a conservative Democrat, but the left wing of the Democratic Party has driven most of them out of office and out of the primaries, so centrists just stay home, no real way to stop the far right and far left from putting forth two unacceptable candidates to choose between.

manlyman
manlyman

Take a look around grapy, see any starving kids? Kids don't starve in America. If you happen to be able find one that does, then look no farther than the parent(s) or lack thereof, and then look at liberal gimme policies that are directly responsible. To say that a government shutdown will take food out of kids mouth is at best a despicable lie, but then that's what our liberal "leaders" do best. Oh and by the way, dana bash is an unabashed liberal worshipper of all things obama, with a particular fondness for harry reid, so there goes that theory. Just another one of your cut and paste comentaries. You need to source your research a little better. I've read you for years grapy, I have yet to see an original thought.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@grape_crush  I believe that the phrase is "grasping at straws." They must have enough to circle the globe several times by now.

paulejb
paulejb

@grape_crush @firemedic307 @DavidStrayer

Don't fib, Grape.

"Reid dumped his usual boilerplate about the unspeakable outrage of Republicans picking and choosing which parts of government to fund.  ”But if you can help one child with cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?” Bash pressed.

Why would we want to do that?” snarled Reid.  ”I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force Base that are sitting home.  They have a few problems of their own.”

http://www.humanevents.com/2013/10/02/harry-reid-why-would-we-save-children-with-cancer-when-federal-employees-are-hurting/

manlyman
manlyman

You are one sick, despicable human being shep. May God have mercy on your soul.

paulejb
paulejb

@DavidStrayer 

The poor can call in their complaints on their Obamaphones from their car or from in front of their flat screen tvs.

firemedic307
firemedic307

@DavidStrayer You've been sniffing the debris in your mustache too long.  The poor don;t vote?  If it weren't for the people who dont pay taxes but love the things taxpayers give them voting in 2008 and 2012, Obama would have been a has been.  You're locked in a time warp, my friend.  Wasn't it Reid who said basically, "Hey I'm not going to fund NIH so kids can get cancer treatment because there are alot of fat federal bureaucrats out of work"?  The "Poor" in America are the richest and most well fed in the world.  Since LBJ we've spent trillions...yes trillions, on the poor and what do we have to show for it?  More poor.  Open a book and read...better yet open your mind.

manlyman
manlyman

Say no to drugs dave. Please!

TeresaPurdham
TeresaPurdham

@SakeetaRosen @TeresaPurdham  shut up realy so you have no respect either i dint call anyone out there name and you can get a job if you try hard enough my niece got one and she 16 so dont give me that crap you can go to a temp ajencey and get a job yea you might have to rough it awhile do without some things like cig. but you do what evere it takes you got alot of growing up to do.

roastpuppy
roastpuppy

@barneydidit @pissedamericanworker Classic spendthrift response! If you and your wife were making in excess of $100K annually and went flat broke, you have no one but yourselves to blame. You should have been putting at least $25,000 a year in savings (or using it to purchase gold and silver) and you should have bought a house a family with an income of only $50K could afford. Although you won't admit it now, I'll bet you and the wife drove SUVs, or some other fancy vehicle, that you purchased a house you couldn't really afford, you had big-screen TVs, etc. and your kids had every expensive fad toy, cell phone, etc. that came along. The reason people like YOU go broke is because they don't plan for that rainy day. I hope you learned from your mistakes.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@SandyLester @SandiBurkhartMutchler Wait...the Democrats followed the rule of law and voted No on a proposal (that had plenty of strings attached BTW)...the Republicans in turn decide to simply refuse to govern until Democrats strip out a legally-passed law...and it's somehow the Democrat's fault?

ChrisGeopon
ChrisGeopon

Kids don't starve in America.. You sir, are clearly the one that needs to educate yourself on how to research topics properly.   It never ceases to amaze me the idiocy that comes from the Republican party.  What's next.. The health care act will create death camps for our elderly... Obama was not born to this country and is really a communist plant?  Suppose you believe the care our Military receives from the VA is top notch as well.

manlyman
manlyman

Its not that our party doesn't want to help the poor, its that the liberal party creates em faster than we can help em.

fandomjunkie
fandomjunkie

@paulejb @grape_crush @firemedic307 @DavidStrayer 

Maybe you should write an accurate transcript of that moment. Someone says: "Why are we pitting people against each other?" right before Reid says "Why would we want to do that?"  He's making a point that everyone affected by this shutdown has problems. I agree that cancer patients should still receive their treatments, but so should people receive their paychecks. Especially with social services down because of shutdown, no money also has the ability to be lethal in the end.

We've already seen that with the lack of healthcare for the poor, the very thing republicans are trying unsuccessfully to take away. So instead, they're just going to take away everything else people need to live. We're all in the same boat - stop trying to divide people over something we should all agree on. The shutdown needs to end; everyone is affected. End of story.

dmcrane
dmcrane

@paulejb @bojimbo26 Yes, true. They are all getting paid, it's in the Constitution, but many of them are giving the soundbite that they won't take it, which is laughable. Their salaries are not part of this deal; not in discretionary budget.  Many are donating it to charities. And one Tea Partier said "she was keeping her paycheck because she needed it" ...like everyone else, living on much less than she,don't need it too.

CoolBeanzIA
CoolBeanzIA

@paulejb Educate yourself about the phone program available to the poor. When it was started, and by whom and which administration extended it to cellphones. BTW, it isn't paid with tax payer money, it is paid for by the telecommunications companies.

KaseyPerron
KaseyPerron

@paulejb @DavidStrayer like having a car is a bad thing. Its how you get to work, min wage job or no. you try living in a rural area like I do (New Hampshire) which doesn't have subways or big bus system. The phones aren't unlimited mins, but they do let people get jobs (how do you get a callback with no phone?? ) or make medical appointments, etc. And if you're buying a tv today its a flatscreen. You can find them on sale for less than $100 or even cheaper at a used furniture store. Having a tv isn't a privilege of the middle or upper class, this isn't 1950.

KaseyPerron
KaseyPerron

@firemedic307 @DavidStrayer Really? the poor, living in run down apartments without heat or adequate space? Eating the cheapest foods and ending fat and sick because its much cheaper to eat ramen than to make a balanced meal?

manlyman
manlyman

The liberal party loves the poor. The only thing better in fact is,.......more poor.

SakeetaRosen
SakeetaRosen

@TeresaPurdham @SakeetaRosen I cant believe that you think that just cause your niece has a job, means everyone else can have one too. You are clueless.

Not one person that is my age, that I know, has a job. I know of over 50 people. All those people, look for jobs all the time. But never, ever get hired.

Why cant you think that maybe, your niece did something others wouldnt do to get a job?


my bestfriend was the ONLY one who ended up with a job. She ended up being a waitress at a restruant. And guess what? She had sex with the boss to get the job. A 15 year old should never have to do a 40 year old to get hired. But thats how it is now. I've been faced with it myself. They say, ohhh gimme a little somethin and you can have the job.

SakeetaRosen
SakeetaRosen

@TeresaPurdham @SakeetaRosen You obviously dont see how hard things are, and clearly you're too stuck up to care. I don't have a lot of growing up to do, I've always been more mature than others my age and I always will be. 

I have a great understanding of this world, and of our corrupt government. I understand exactly what is going on, but I'm not sure you do.

SakeetaRosen
SakeetaRosen

@TeresaPurdham @SakeetaRosen Respect? Why should I have respect for some rich ass who thinks everything in life is simple?


You cant just go to a temp agency and get a job, my mother is a certified accountant, and shes been working with multiple temp agencies. She still doesnt have a job, and its been 8 months.

SakeetaRosen
SakeetaRosen

@roastpuppy @barneydidit @pissedamericanworker I completely agree, people like them go broke because they are stupid... other people, like my family, go broke because someone dies... a vicious circle...

I tell ya, if we ever had that much annually, we would have saved so much of it up we would be fine right now...

We only ever had a max of 20,000 a year, but that was with my grandpas retirement... after he died, we got stuck living off of 8,200 for a whole year...


we are living in a house thats still going through foreclosure, so we are not paying any type of rent or house payments. If we would have had to, we would have been homeless 2 and a half years ago.


Housing said we have another year to wait for them to find us an EMERGENCY house... and I have a baby, and my dads a retard,

 how screwed up is that

lurch
lurch

@manlyman
"
The liberal party loves the poor. The only thing better in fact is,.......more poor"


The liberal party loves to HELP the poor. The only thing better in fact is,.......RAISING WAGES SO THERE WILL BE LESS POOR.

 There I fixed it for you.