Millennial Writers: Government shutdown is a big deal for needy women and children

Millennial writers Meghan Clark and Nichole Flores have a new Washington Post article that explains why the government shutdown will have a serious, negative impact on poor women and children. They explain:

Some Americans will experience the shutdown more acutely than others, especially government employees who will go without pay, veterans and disabled persons who will go without benefits, and cancer patients who will be denied access to critical services from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Still, there are some for whom the shutdown will have an almost immediate and deleterious effect: poor families and children.

According to USDA estimates, Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) benefits in most states will disappear after one week of government closure. According to Forbes, 8.9 million women, infants, and children risk having their necessary benefits slashed or frozen. While human interest stories about families and school children who cannot visit the Lincoln Memorial or the Statue of Liberty have taken center stage in public discourse about the shutdown, it is poor families who are positioned to bear the full weight of this latest round of Washington wrangling.

According to the Healthy NY Web site—the USDA website remains offline—WIC provides low-income pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children up to age five with supplemental nutrition, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health checkups, and referrals for childcare.  Struggling families require these vital services, which provide necessary nutrition during critical years in human development. Dr. Perri Klaas at the New York Times Healthblog exhorts, “Think for a moment of poverty as a disease, thwarting growth and development, robbing children of the healthy, happy futures they might otherwise expect.”

Poverty prevention in early childhood is crucial for healthy development. So why wasn’t WIC one of the programs so important to maintain continuity that the House leadership designated it for a separate vote?  Why aren’t WIC beneficiaries—children whose livelihood and future depends on access to government-sponsored nutrition—the face of the government shutdown of 2013?

The full article can be read here.