Government Shutdown Trickles Down to Rogue Valley

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, October 7 2013 at 6:48 PM, Updated: Mon, October 7 2013 at 7:40 PM

While it's only been a week since the partial government shutdown, families in the Rogue Valley are already feeling the hit as congressional problems trickle down to every day people.

The shutdown is making tough times, even tougher for Sabena Vaughan's family.

"My husband is in the military," began Vaughan.

"He is an Army National Guardsman he just got promoted to Staff Sergeant."

A pay error, unrelated to the shutdown, was recently fixed for her husband. But then the stalemate in Washington D.C. happened and government workers were furloughed.

"He can't receive the pay because there's not enough people to process it," said Vaughan.

"It's hard. We've had to work out arrangements with all our creditors. That's always difficult."

With very little money coming in for Vaughan, her husband and seven kids at home, it's been a struggle to get by.

"It's not a drop in the bucket for what we need to survive."

What's more, a program Sabena's family relies on - Head Start and Early Head Start - may also be in the crosshairs.

"It's important that we support head start," said Vaughan.

"If the shutdown is not averted and continues, we'll begin to lose funding as of November 1st from the federal government," said Blair Johnson the Director of Southern Oregon Early Head Start.

"For Early Head Start, 98% of our funding is from the government so we would shutdown the Early Head Start program and we would have to furlough over 40 employees and not have service to over 119 pregnant women and children," she continued.

As for Head Start, she said 58-60% of funding comes from the state and the rest is federal. That means Head Start would have to begin planning for other funding options. It's won't be easy after an already rough round of sequester cuts earlier this year.

According to Johnson, while services in Southern Oregon haven't been scaled back as a result of the shutdown, about 23 Head Start programs across the nation with October 1st fiscal year start dates have had to either close their doors or cut back and find other funding options. It's affecting roughly 19,000 children nationwide.

However, if November 1st rolls around and the shutdown is still in place, Johnson said between 100-150 programs would be affected across the United States. It translates to roughly 100,000 kids losing out on Head Start services.

Right now Southern Oregon Head Start officials are working out a plan to present to the board, should the worst happen. The timing of it all couldn't be worse.

"During the sequester we took a very big hit and so at this point in time we have really tightened the reigns in terms of our budget beyond what we can do. So more cuts would be very very detrimental," said Johnson.

Sabena and her family are familiar with the effects of the sequester as well.

"We came through a difficult summer where [my husband] was laid off from the sequester [...] We've had a lot of personal impact to our situation from both the sequester and now the government shutdown," she said.

Meanwhile, Vaughan and her family are just trying to weather the storm.

"My husband just started his masters program at SOU and his tuition assistance also comes from the government so we don't know what's happening with that," said Vaughan.

Uncertainty, in a climate where the only thing that's certain is the stalemate that's trickling down and hurting families. 

She said she hopes congress men and women and work it out and that people will think less about their political opinion and more about what the shutdown will mean for families living right next door.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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