The good and the bad news on the federal budget

I'll start with the good news....

Yesterday, President Obama released his budget proposal for 2012, keeping his promise to freeze non-security-related domestic spending for the next five years. The good news is the downsized budget still manages to include more funding for vulnerable children and families, including necessary investments in early education, including $350 million for the Early Learning Challenge Fund, an $866 million boost for Head Start and Early Head Start and a $1.3 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block grant. It also restores funding for food stamps that was cut out of the recently passed child nutrition bill and includes $35 million to improve access to healthy food in impoverished communities.

In a press release, Bill Bentley, president and CEO of Voices for America's Children and a DC Action board member, praised the president's proposal: "The future of our communities is directly connected to the opportunities we provide to our children. The investments President Obama's budget makes in them are investments in our future workers, caretakers and innovators."

But the cheering for this badly needed relief was muted. Child advocates were focused instead on the clear and present danger posed by the continuing budget resolution in the House -- the funding bill that is necessary to keep the government running for the rest of the fiscal year. It includes severe cuts to early childhood programs and services, including a $39 million cut in funding for child care, which means that 150,000 families could lose this crucial assistance that allows parents to work. It also includes a whopping $1 billion cut to Head Start, which would be the biggest blow in the program's history. According to Voices Children, 218,000 children could lose Head Start services and 50,000 Head Start staff would lose their jobs.

We can't let Congress balance the budget against our most vulnerable children who at the very beginning of their lives are depending on our support. Our partners at the national advocacy organization, ZERO TO THREE have posted an action alert that will give you the talking points you need to call Congress and put a stop to this heartless bill. Click here to take action.