January 24, 2019News » How the Federal Government Shutdown is Affecting Our Kids

The longest shut down in history… For the first few weeks of the shutdown, many children’s programs continued using funding on hand. As we move into the second month of the shutdown, here’s what you need to know about the impact on children:

  • The biggest immediate impact on kids is nutrition because the Agriculture Department is not funded. The Department of Agriculture has said there is funding for SNAP, school meals and WIC through February, with school meals and CACFP funded through March. https://fns.usda.gov​/pressrelease​/2019​/000319. As a result, SNAP benefits have just been paid early for February. So people will have to make those stretch until March, and if the shutdown is still ongoing in March they won’t get benefits.  Also, some families are going to have trouble using their SNAP benefits because about 2500 retailers’ licenses expired and can not get renewed. Presumably this problem is worse in food desert areas and will grow over time. Keep encouraging people to use their WIC benefits. States can use the WIC funding they have on hand.
  • The Census Bureau is currently operating Decennial Census work using “advance funding” so all the Decennial Census staff that are working are getting paid.  None are considered essential personnel so far, which means that if the shutdown continues the Decennial Census work may be stopped. That could create a constitutional crisis, since the Constitution calls for a Census every 10 years (and a postponement would be more than 10 years since the last one.) While Congress sets the April 1 Census Day and could presumably postpone it, that would then affect the delivery of redistricting data to the states, which should happen April 1, 2021. https://census.gov​/rdo​/pdf​/2020​_AnnouncementOfProgram​.pdf  The top priority right now for advocates trying to get out the count, including the young child count, for the 2020 Census is to make sure that their state and communities have Complete Count Committees, that they are funded, and that counting young children is a formal priority for the committee. At the state level, advocates will want to seek legislation in the 2019 sessions, because 2020 will be too late.
  • School meals are supposed to be funded through the end of March. Some school districts are getting nervous and changing what they serve now to conserve funds. Note that this article says USDA released a statement saying school breakfast, lunch and CACFP are funded through March. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/17/government-shutdown-victim-school-lunches-1096437
  • Another areas of immediate impact is federally subsidized housing, because HUD funds haven’t been appropriated. Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers apparently have the funds to be paid through February. https://affordablehousingonline.com/blog/millions-low-income-renters-at-risk-if-shutdown-into-march/ Landlords shouldn’t be able to evict families even if they don’t get paid in March, and will be paid eventually, but if the shutdown continues they may choose not to renew leases.
  • The IRS is not funded, but the administration is making lots of IRS workers return to work to get tax refunds out.


This is all changing week by week, as agencies monitor the availability of funds and as the administration makes decisions about who is considered essential and must return to work without pay.


Update provided by Voice’s for Ohio’s Children