MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Congress failed to reach a budget deal earlier this year it resulted in more than a $1 trillion in automatic budget cuts which targeted defense, discretionary domestic and certain health care programs.
On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz met with members of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Hispanic Unity of Florida and Amigos for Kids to discuss the current and future impact of sequestration on Hispanic and Latino families in South Florida.
“We call on our elected leaders to end the cuts that are devasating our communities,” said NCLR’s Natalie Carter.
Wasserman Schultz’s office said that recent estimates show that 57,000 preschoolers will be cut from Head Start this coming year, many of whom are Hispanic and Latino schoolchildren, who make up one-third of the program’s students.
“Florida’s early education programs like Head Start are losing $16 million in funding and they will likely have to sever 1,2000 fewer children across Florida,” said Wasserman Schultz.
Cuts to programs that support lower-income students in reading and math under Title 1 K-12 education funding are estimated to have impacted over one million students nationwide, and more than 95,000 children in Florida. Thirty-seven percent of Latino kids attend high-poverty schools receiving Title I funding, meaning that, again, Hispanics are disproportionately impacted by these cuts.
“These children didn’t rack up the debt and they didn’t vote for the members of Congress who refused to fix sequestration, who refused to sit down with Democrats to make sure that a compromise could be reached,” said Wasserman Schultz.
In addition to educational funding cuts, job training and nutrition programs have already started feeling the effects of the sequester. Programs that provide food for the needy and elderly, such as Broward Meals on Wheels, have suffered significant budget cuts that have forced them to cut services.
“For the past 29 years, on any given day in Broward County, we served 5,000 seniors a healthy meal. Right now we can’t do that anymore as a result of sequestration,” said Mark Adler with Broward’s Meals on Wheels.
“We are facing severe cuts that our dramatically impacting individuals who have the most need for meal assistance, for housing assistance, for assistance with child care so they can go to work,” sais Wasserman Schultz. “The sequester takes a hack saw to the quality of their life.”
If Congress does not reach a deal by September 30th, the sequestration will continue into the federal government’s new fiscal year which begins Oct. 1st.