Children's Clothing Fund to be Eliminated

Posted on May 15, 2013

Michigan Head Start families face another setback as the children’s clothing allowance is eliminated.

Each August, thousands of Michigan low-income families, many of whom are Head Start families, received $137 for each child ages 5-17. The cash assistance provided new clothing and shoes to children in time for them to return to school. Without the program, many of these children will go without.

Gov. Rick Snyder has announced that the elimination was a result of the across-the-board federal spending cuts known as sequestration. The cut is one of many that add up to a budget decrease of about $150.5 million for Michigan.

Other cuts will also affect low-income families, including impacts to a Department of Community Health nutrition program as well as education Title 1 funding, which provides dollars to help high-poverty schools and at-risk children.

Robin Bozek, Executive Director of Michigan Head Start Association, said low-income families who were already struggling are facing even greater challenges because of the federal sequestration.

Many are at risk of losing their child’s spot in Head Start and the program’s services in education and physical, mental and dental health as a result of the cuts. They’re affected by cuts to low-income programs such as WIC that many depend on to provide for their families.

Now, the elimination of the children’s clothing allowance is yet another blow that they must find a way to sustain, Bozek said.

The $137 was more than aid to families who struggle to provide for their children’s most basic needs, Bozek said. It provided a self-esteem boost to the boys and girls who received the clothes.

“We cannot allow families in poverty to bear the brunt of these cuts,” Bozek said. “When lifeline after lifeline is taken away, children are the ones who suffer.”