A thin silver lining in D.C. budget


There was no one celebrating Tuesday when the D.C. Council gave preliminary approval to a budget to fill the city's $188 million gap. Funding for critical safety-net programs was slashed, including basic income assistance to thousands of families with children. 

We had to look hard to find it, but there was a silver lining. Thanks to your calls and emails to Council and the hard work of our High 5 partner organizations who have been living at the Wilson Building, a handful of programs serving our youngest and most vulnerable were spared. 

The Council restored the bulk of the funding for the recently passed Healthy Schools Act, which had been stripped in Mayor Fenty's budget proposal. The Act helps ensure that children in the District's public schools have access to fresh, nutritious meals and comprehensive health and wellness services. This comes as a big relief when when many struggling families are unable to provide healthy meals at home and when many children would otherwise come to school too hungry to focus on learning. 

We are also happy to report that the cuts to funding for the Community Collaboratives were not as deep as we feared. Research has shown that child maltreatment spikes in times of economic hardship, and the Collaboratives provide an important, frontline defense through outreach and services to families in high-risk areas. 

Finally, the Council restored $1 million in funding for child care. Unfortunately, it's still far less than what we need to support high-quality early care and education for all children in the District. 

Indeed, we cannot rest on these small wins. The city faces an even bigger budget gap in FY 2012, and it's going to be an uphill battle to preserve critical programs. We will continue to do everything we can to speak up for proven programs that help reverse the cycle of poverty for our youngest citizens and create a brighter future for our city. 

As we gear up for this fight, please sign on to our High 5 platform, if you haven't already done so, to show your support. Also, stay informed and help us spread the word by following us on Facebook and Twitter. And of course, in this tough economy, every donation counts, whether you give to DC Action or to any of our High 5 partners. List and links to partners are on the sidebar here

Thanks for your continued support.