Government Shutdown to Impact Michigan Kids

LANSING - Thousands of kids around Michigan are being negatively impacted the longer the government shutdown drags on.

Some of them may not have a school to go to later this month, while others might be forced to go to bed hungry, if money doesn't come soon.

  • Head Start programs in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties may have their days numbered because of the shutdown. Director Ivan Love says he got an e-mail Tuesday saying that this week's payment would be only made to programs that are essential, but didn't indicate if the Head Start program would be one of them.

  • "The program survives on $600,000 bi-weekly. If we're not able to draw the money down tomorrow then I will have no money to operate on," said Love. Even if the money does come in at midnight, Wednesday, the program could still be shut down says Love. "My bigger fear is that in two weeks when the debt limit is reached we won't be able to draw money down. At that point we, and all other programs in the United States, will have to close down," said Love.

  • Head Start students aren't the only ones that face uncertainty. If the government stays shut down, the WIC program in Michigan also has an uncertain future.

  • More than 200,000 women, infants, and children under five depend on WIC. The program provides food and juice to the low income families who need it most; and right now it's only going to last five more weeks.

  • "Families are concerned, and at the state level we are concerned as well. We don't know how long the shutdown is going to be, so the four to five weeks is only a temporary fix," said Angela Minicuci with the Michigan Dept. of Community Health.

  • The question is, if these federal programs that feed low income kids fail, where will the families turn? Food pantries say they'll try, but likely won't be able to take in the extra need.

  • "Lets just say we won't turn anyone away. Our major concern is that we already have a need that we have difficulty at times filling," said Kareemah El-Amin, Executive Director for the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

  • The shutdown could also affect school food programs. Federal funding for school lunches is set to expire after October if the shutdown continues.

  • But most schools aren't worried. Most will be able to dip into their own funding to continue providing meals, and will be reimbursed once the shutdown is over.

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