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Health & wellness efforts face deep cuts in FY19 budget proposal

By Tiereny Lloyd

Afterschool and summer learning programs provide comprehensive programming to help improve the health, safety, and overall wellbeing of students. However, the recent release of President Trump’s proposed FY 2019 budget threatens to negatively impact children’s health and safety in a variety of ways by proposing cuts and eliminations to critical programs that support young people.

A safe haven

One of the most important and fundamental benefits of afterschool is that it keeps students safe. However, the FY19 budget proposes the complete elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. The initiative funds local afterschool and summer learning programs in all 50 states that inspire students to learn, keep young people safe offline and online, and give parents peace of mind. Elimination of these funds would jeopardize the safety of 1.7 million children and families who stand to lose access to afterschool programs while also denying them additional opportunities to learn.

Child nutrition programs

Although the president’s budget does not propose to cut the core child nutrition entitlement programs (National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program) it does reduce Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spending by $213 billion over 10 years.  

The budget eliminates funding for the Corporation for Community and National Service (CNCS). This program houses the AmeriCorps VISTA program which places volunteers (Afterschool Meals VISTAs) in state afterschool networks to promote the uptake and implementation of the Child and Adult Care Food Program in afterschool sites. It is estimated that about a third of all AmeriCorps members serve in afterschool programs working directly with young people as coordinators.

Student mental health services

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) budget faces a proposed reduction of almost $700 million. SAMHSA funding supports national and regional programs like Project AWARE, which distributes grants to promote youth mental health awareness among schools and communities and improves connections to services for school-age youth.

By proposing $5 billion to treat opioid substance abuse, which has negatively affected the quality of life and increased the prevalence of adverse childhood trauma in students participating in afterschool programs, the administration recognizes the need for funding to combat the opioid epidemic.

Physical education and physical activity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) faces a proposed cut of more than $1 billion. Specifically, a $138 million cut in funding for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion would jeopardize funds used to support staff professional development and training for obesity prevention and health in both school and out-of-school time.

Funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is also in jeopardy. Title IV, Part A supports health and physical education in schools; this grant faces elimination. In addition, Title I (low socio-economic status schools) funding that can support well-rounded education, health, and physical education programs has been slotted for a decrease and funding for Title II (that can be used for professional development) also faces elimination.

Overall wellbeing

The FY 2019 budget also proposes cuts to programs that benefit children from low-income households including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, and eliminating the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Although the president’s budget represents his administration’s policy and spending priorities, Congress allocates federal dollars to programs and agencies. Your continued advocacy is needed! Keep telling your stories of how afterschool provides a haven of comprehensive health and wellness solutions, from providing a safe place to go afterschool, to increasing access to nutritious foods, to creating an inclusive social and emotionally-rich environment where all students feel supported in developing their unique talents and gifts.

The evidence is clear: #AfterschoolWorksTake action now and join the fight to save afterschool.