7 Ways the Sequester Is Really Going to Hurt Kids

There's nothing abstract about $85 billion in federal budget cuts. Here's how extreme belt-tightening in Washington could affect your children.

By Caitlin O'Connell
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Scholarships for children of veterans are getting slashed.

The sequester is taking a chunk out of the amount awarded by the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, which were created to help subsidize college costs for students whose parent died fighting in either of the wars since September 11, 2001. Scholarships issued before March 1 will retain their original value, but with 37.8% cuts, students applying now will receive $2,133.81 less.

There will be fewer food inspections.

Thanks to the sequester, the Food and Drug Administration may conduct 2,100 fewer inspections. This puts the country at a greater risk for food-borne illness, while also costing additional billions in lost food production.

Head Start is getting hammered.

The sequester has been particularly devastating to Head Start, a comprehensive federal preschool program for low-income families. The Department of Health and Social Services has left it to local offices to decide how best to implement the mandatory cuts, which often means randomly removing toddlers from their rolls. The White House estimates 70,000 children nationwide will be forced out of Head Start as a result of the sequester.

National parks will be far less accessible.

In its struggle to cut $134 million from its annual budget, the National Parks Service is delaying openings, closing picnic areas and campgrounds, and slowing hiring across the country. Park rangers worry how reductions in support staff, brought on to accommodate large volumes of visitors during peak season, will delay response time to emergencies. Another concern is the local businesses that will suffer for the additional time the parks remain closed.

The National Zoo might need to downsize.

Goodbye, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian? As part of the federally funded Smithsonian Institution, which is bracing for at least a five percent budget cut, the National Zoo plans to scale back on training for handlers, ongoing research projects, and major exhibits like the giant pandas.

No more class trips to the White House.

Just a few days after the sequester went into affect on March 1, President Obama announced that all White House tours would be cancelled. Though not the most severe of the sequester cuts, it has become one of the most symbolic. And the bad PR could convince the White House there are smarter ways to save.

J. Meric/Getty Images

Flyovers were missing from Opening Day.

Flyovers are a favorite part of Opening Day fanfare, but many teams missed out on aerial acrobatics because of military budget cuts. Since the sequester, the Pentagon has suspended all public flyovers, including those at service academy graduations, military funerals, air shows, and sporting events.


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