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Valentine's Day ushers in the most unromantic topic of the federal budget this year, and President Obama's proposed spending plan has now been unveiled. Much wrangling and intense debate is surely in store, and it's anybody's guess what the final product will be. Your (Wo)Man in Washington flips straight to the summary of expenditures pertaining to women and girls to see what's on the presidential priority list for the current fiscal year. Here's a quick list of some high points for women and girls:

  • An $11 million increase for family planning, contraception, health information and preventive services, as well as teen pregnancy prevention program funding.
  • $23 million to a state paid leave fund, to assist states in establishing and implementing a paid leave program to complement the unpaid leave available to some workers under the Family Medical Leave Act.
  • To support the Caregiver Initiative, $96 million in assistance to family caregivers of the elderly or disabled relatives "because the responsibility for providing informal care..often...falls to women". The funds will keep the care recipient at home and support community programs enabling caregivers to deal with their multiple roles.
  • New money for the states to use in establishing quality early childhood education programs, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start for 968,000 low income children and child care subsidies for 1.7 million more children whose parents could not pay for child care without it. Military families will benefit from $86 million in new money to operate affordable, high quality child care centers here and abroad.
  • Continue funding for enforcement of civil rights violations and claims of racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination, including employment discrimination generally and employment discrimination against those with family caregiving responsibilities.
  • An extra $175 million over 2010 levels of dedicated funding to support victims of, and decrease the occurrence of, domestic violence and sexual assault, process the backlog of rape evidence kits, expand training for law enforcement officers working with DNA evidence, and offer shelter, transitional housing, and other services to battered, abused and assaulted women.
  • Hunger prevention programs in the amount of $7.9 billion for pregnant or new mothers and infant children (WIC Program)serving 9.6 million participants (personally, I think it is a national scandal that we have 9.6 million women and children without enough to eat in this country) as well as older children.

Of course, there's more than this brief outline, but it's a start. If you want to see the whole fact sheet for women and girls funding, then click here. While the final budget may include few, or none, of these items, it's telling that the White House included them in its initial submission.
'Til next time,

Your (Wo)Man in Washington

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