To the editor:
On Dec. 4, I was watching the news when I heard Janet Schalansky announce her plan for cutting $26.6 million out of the current Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) budget. I was stunned as I heard these cuts being announced. At what point do we say enough? At what point have our children and families suffered enough?
Of the $26.6 million in cuts (which in reality is $49 million in cuts), $18.2 million directly reduces services to our most needy families and children. The cuts target children who have been abused or neglected, have significant disabilities and have no insurance.
What is equally disturbing is the lack of forethought and planning these cuts demonstrate. According to a 2002 study completed by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) we know that children who are raised in an economically impoverished environment begin school significantly behind their peers. Programs like Early Head Start have been developed to attempt to remedy this issue. Early Head Start is now being cut along with other quality early initiatives.
We also know that children that do not have success in school are more likely to drop out and become involved in crime. According to the EPI, it will cost taxpayers $1.3 million per child who drops out and becomes involved in criminal behavior. So, when we are asked to pay taxes to build prisons and hire corrections officers in 10 years, and you wonder why? Just look back to Dec. 4, 2002, for your answer.