Balancing the Budget & Tough Choices Families Make Everyday
Olympia managed to avert a budget crisis, much to the relief of Washington citizens and many lawmakers. It took months of work, negotiations and two special sessions to come up with a final budget that our legislators could agree to. During the process, furlough notices were sent to workers whose employment depended on state funding. Single parents that relied on childcare subsidies scrambled to make arrangements under already difficult circumstances. Pregnant women, caregivers and parents wondered if they might get the aid that goes a long way in providing much needed nutrition for their families. During these last two weeks of budget negotiations the word “budget” seemed to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. At WithinReach we worried what the looming government shutdown could mean for the most vulnerable families we work with.
We were relieved when we learned a budget passed and a government shutdown avoided. Unfortunately, these feelings of accomplishment and relief did not come to all. There are thousands of families in Washington that are not able to balance their household budgets and provide their families with basic needs. At the WithinReach Family Health Hotline, we talk to these families every day. These families make concessions and choices about what to fund and what to forgo on a daily basis. These are hard choices. Pay the rent or feed the family? They choose to find a way, and sometimes they ask for help.
The families we talk to want to know that they are doing everything in their power to keep their children on track. They want to provide enough food for their children so that they have the necessary nutrition to focus and do well in school. They want their children to receive health insurance so that they will not have to forgo medical care or be strapped with huge hospital bills. They want for their children what we believe all children deserve—access to healthy food and quality health care. The recent budget passing helped to remind us of the important role these government benefit programs serve in the lives of families throughout Washington. They truly help to lessen the financial struggles of families and help parents breathe easier knowing their children have what they need to be healthy. We are happy to answer those phone calls, and help to alleviate the tough choices that many of those families are forced to make every day.