EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

December 25, 2012

Poor would be hardest hit by plunge over 'fiscal cliff'

(Continued)

The looming federal cuts will chop $490,000 from our Head Start program, which equates to 50 young, high-risk children who will no longer have access to future success in school and in life.

And the GLCAC’s Women, Infants and Children nutrition and health program may serve 392 fewer mothers and children at a time in their lives when healthy eating is so critical. Many studies have shown WIC protects against troubled pregnancies and saves money in Medicaid services for newborns and their mothers -- up to $4.21 in savings for every WIC dollar spent. That means the projected $621,000 cut to GLCAC’s WIC budget will increase health care costs by as much as $2.6 million.

At GLCAC, we understand the pressure and strains the state and federal government are under to provide funding to so many worthwhile needs while not overburdening taxpayers who are dealing with a sluggish economy.

We would also hate to see an increase in the needs for our services if the fiscal cliff results in a recession and increased unemployment and poverty.

However, the real human cost of a failure to solve this crisis will not be felt inside the Beltway or on the ball fields. It will be seen in cities like Lawrence, where parents and children will be colder, lack healthy foods and get a late start on their education.

Evelyn Friedman is executive director of the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council

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