How Poor Children Are Bearing the Brunt of Austerity Cuts

The Illinois budget impasse is being used to erode childhood development programs for poor families.

In These Times and Kartemquin Films

Rachel Deitsch is a 23-year-old participant in Healthy Start, which is being cut because of the Illinois budget impasse.

Being a new mom is hard, and being a young mom is hard­er,” says Rachel Deitsch, a 23-year-old par­tic­i­pant in Healthy Start, an ear­ly child­hood devel­op­ment pro­gram that serves low-income fam­i­lies. She is one of count­less res­i­dents fac­ing dev­as­tat­ing aus­ter­i­ty cuts, as Illi­nois law­mak­ers con­tin­ue to fail at pass­ing a real budget.

Illinois has not passed a real budget in nearly two years, the first state to go that long without a budget since the Great Depression.

The ero­sion of child­hood pro­grams is dev­as­tat­ing in a state where, as of 2014, 41 per­cent of chil­dren under the age of 3 lived in low-income fam­i­lies. This video shows how young moth­ers in Illi­nois are left to fend for them­selves, thanks to the ero­sion of vital pub­lic services.

Illi­nois has not passed a real bud­get in near­ly two years, the first state to go that long with­out a bud­get since the Great Depres­sion. Repub­li­can Gov. Bruce Rauner has refused to sign off on any bud­get that doesn’t also cur­tail col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights, lead­ing to a show­down with the state’s Democrats. 

Strand­ed by the State—an 8‑part video series pro­duced in part­ner­ship with Kartemquin Films — fol­lows the fam­i­lies, work­ers and stu­dents liv­ing through these de fac­to bud­get cuts, show­ing the ways they dete­ri­o­rate the fab­ric of Illi­nois com­mu­ni­ties. The series incor­po­rates data con­nect­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Illi­nois to long-term trends of aus­ter­i­ty nation­wide, includ­ing the stag­ger­ing cuts pro­posed in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s first budget.

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