The ongoing government shutdown is set to become the longest one in American history come Saturday. That's 21 days many federal workers will go without paychecks, a disastrous scenario for employees with families to support. If you'd like to help out parents affected by the government shutdown, here are five different options to consider.
President Donald Trump reportedly told Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday, Jan. 4 that the government shutdown — aka his temper tantrum over his proposed border wall — could last for "years," according to Vox. Although this scenario is unlikely, Trump's stubbornness on the issue combined with Senate Republicans' reluctance to oppose the president suggests this shutdown could last for a long time.
The prospect of a prolonged shutdown is frightening for the 800,000 federal employees this crisis affects. Federal workers aren't receiving paychecks, which means they can't pay their bills and support their families.
Then there's the topic of families who rely on federally-funded programs for childcare and food assistance. The fund for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, for instance, is expected to run out by mid-February, according to CBS News. If this happens, 800,000 parents won't be able to purchase basic necessities for their children.
As for childcare? For example, one parent shared that he has to pay her weekly invoice for daycare, despite the shutdown. "I’m a furloughed Federal employee, but the #GovernmentShutdown doesn’t just affect me," the parent wrote on Twitter. "My daughter’s daycare is in the Commerce Dept and is closed during the shutdown, but we still have to pay our weekly invoice.”
Clearly, these families need the public's support. So here are five ways you can help affected parents during the shutdown.
Donate Money via GoFundMe
I've seen a lot of posts asking where to donate to families in need. I visited GoFundMe's website and searched "government shutdown," leading me to countless parents asking for help.
One mother wrote in her fundraiser description:
I am a single mom of 6 children who depend solely on me. As a veteran and federal employee my only income has been stopped do to the government shutdown. I have sought and exhausted all other resources but they have not been enough to keep up with my bills or my children needs.
Of course, it's up to you who you chose to support — you can donate to someone in your home state or perhaps you have a family friend mind. Every contribution helps.
Donate Supplies Through Local Organizations
It's no secret diapers, formulas, and other basic necessities are expensive. To help out in this area, find local organizations in your area that are collecting items for donation.
Two organizations in Cape May, New Jersey, for example, are collecting "diapers, baby food, non-perishable foods and money" for local U.S. Coast Guard families, according to NewJersey.com.
I've seen similar efforts in other parts of the United States, so don't hesitate to call around. Fire departments and American Legions are a good place to start.
Support Your Local Food Bank
Help Out With Childcare
A lot of federal workers are without daycare at the moment, making it impossible for them to seek out a part-time gig while the government is closed. Making matters even more difficult? In some cases, these parents still have to pay their weekly invoices for care regardless of the shutdown.
If you know of any parents in need of childcare and are able to help, watching their child for an hour or two would be substantial. Another idea is to organize a big playdate at a local park if you're not able to host at your own home. And don't hesitate to reach out — some parents might feel shy about asking for assistance.
Put Pressure On Senate Republicans
The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday evening to end the shutdown, but it failed to get Senate approval on Thursday, according to Reuters. Republicans hold the majority in the Senate, meaning they are crucial in ending the shutdown. But since Republicans seem beholden to Trump's every whim and desire, it's unlikely they'll fold without immense public pressure.
In one example of pure stubbornness, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Schumer that "political stunts are not going to get us anywhere," after he asked about introducing legislation to end the shutdown.
If you want to talk to your Republican Senator about why the loss of income for families across the United States has nothing to do with a "political stunt," you contact the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to request the office of your senator. Or you find them via the United States Senate's website.
Innocent families shouldn't have to suffer during this government shutdown. To ease their troubles, consider any five of these aforementioned options. Acts of kindness can go a long way.