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The Government Shutdown Has Parents Struggling To Provide For Their Kids

by Alana Romain

President Donald Trump may be totally fine with the fact that his insistence on funding his plan for a border wall has led to a partial government shutdown, but with it now entering its third week, a growing number of Americans are being left in an incredibly difficult position. In fact, the government shutdown is affecting families in several ways.

Though there have certainly been government shutdowns in the past, the current shutdown, which began Dec. 22, is proving to be a doozy for many parents. With many federal employees being furloughed, and those deemed essential being expected to work without pay, according to The New York Times, it's meant that American families are now stuck wondering how they're going to get by without an income, especially since things like rent, groceries, and general day-to-day living costs still need to be paid whether the government is fully functional or not.

Food Assistance Programs Are Taking A Big Hit

It's never easy to be without a pay check, but when you have tiny mouths to feed, the pressure feels even more pronounced. And for low-income families, the situation is already getting pretty scary. According to WRAL News, some grocery stores have already begun having to turn away customers paying with EBT and food stamps, leaving residents to rely on other sources of assistance, like food pantries.

But it's not like the stores themselves have much choice: according to CNN, staffing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been cut by 95 percent, meaning programs American families rely on, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), may no longer be able to access the help they require.

But as bad as it might already be, it's actually about to get much worse. That's because funding for the government agency hasn't been approved beyond January, according to CBS News, and with no end in sight to the shutdown itself, there simply won't be enough money to cover SNAP for February and beyond, leaving the food security of an estimated 42 million Americans in jeopardy — more than 68 percent of which are families with children.

Parents Are Scrambling To Pay For Child Care

It's also not just food though. At four major airports across the country, hundreds of TSA agents had to call out from work in the first week of January, as they were left working without pay, according to CNN. And while that would be problematic for all employees, for those with kids (especially single parents) the lack of income has left many searching for a cash-paying side hustle so that they can ensure their children can remain in daycare for when they finally do return to work.

As mom Rosalind Brooks told CNN, "With the government still shutdown, no income in sight, and savings running low, I may be forced to withdraw my children from daycare. If I have to, they will possibly lose their spot and I won’t have any care for them in the event we are forced to return to work without pay."

And They're Worried About Paying Their Bills In General

With around 800,000 federal workers currently furloughed due to the shutdown, according to CNBC, many have taken to social media to share their worries, using the hashtag, #shutdownstories. And it seems they are voicing the same fears about not being able to make rent or mortgage payments, and be able to put food on the table for their little ones.

Low-Income Families Are Particularly At Risk

The shutdown isn't just affecting those directly employed by the government though. According to NBC News, the funding cuts made to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have also meant that things like mandatory health and safety low-income housing inspections have been put on hold, meaning residents — families, the elderly, people with disabilities, etc. — are being left in potentially dangerous situations. What's more is that rental assistance payments have also been put in jeopardy, potentially leaving tenants at risk for homelessness, as NBC News reported.

But the worst part of all may just be that the president appears to be digging in his heels for the long haul. According to The Washington Post, on Friday, Trump gave a news conference in which he claimed the shutdown could continue for months or possibly even years, which would no doubt lead to straight-out devastation for many Americans.

As much as the president may feel the need to double down in order to get the wall he essentially based his entire campaign on, the reality is that the government shutdown is having very real and scary implications for people all over the country who just want to return to work so that they may pay their bills and provide for their families without wondering where they are going to have to find the extra money they should be getting from their pay checks.

Without any indication of the situation coming to a resolve soon, that means that parents all across America are stuck feeling incredibly uncertain right now.