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day 44: welcome baby

March 17, 2011

You don’t need any reminders that we are living in somber economic times.  Like me, you probably drink in the bleak news every morning with your coffee.  You drive to work with it, slumping darkly like an extra passenger in your back seat (and don’t you wish bad news would chip in for gas once in a while?  Geez!). You breathe in the sad state of your state every single day.

Let me first say that I do not envy legislators the Herculean task of managing budgets.  I am skilled at neither math nor magic, and it seems both talents may be necessary to fill the financial hole we’ve dug.  In North Carolina, that hole is about 2-and-a-half billion dollars deep.

I was disheartened, if not surprised, to learn that early childhood programs for needy kids are on the chopping block in North Carolina’s budget.  The preliminary version of the state budget hints at either consolidating Smart Start and other early childhood programs or eliminating them altogether.

Look, I understand that something has to give.  I get that we can’t squeeze blood from a proverbial stone.  What I don’t understand is how we’ll deal with a lack of early childhood programming when the recession inevitably ends.  Again, I’m no math whiz, but to me it sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul, and Peter’s still in diapers.

One program that stands to lose in this preliminary budget is Welcome Baby, an agency that provides parenting education, a car seat safety program, and a giving closet to needy parents of children under five.  Partially funded by Smart Start money, this critical resource could disappear with proposed budget cuts.

As of Day 44, though, Welcome Baby was still around.  And it was willing to accept my donation of outgrown-but-adorable children’s clothes, a well-loved double stroller that neither of my children will ride in willingly anymore, and various other gently used gear.  I can only hope my Day 44 gift provides some parent a measure of help in the middle of a bleak day.  I also hope supporters of vulnerable programming will continue to make their voices heard by the state legislature.

I wish you a day filled with nothing but good news.  Thank you, always, for showing up.

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