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Dear Tim Barrus

Federal spending on programs for adolescents are being entirely eliminated. How are programs such as your art program for boys at risk going to survive? And why do we need an art program for boys at risk anyway?

They will not survive. The bottom line means sicker kids, and dead kids. They will die. Intervention will be a thing from the past. We are washing our hands of these kids. What programs currently there working to support kids at risk will simply disappear. There are very real consequences to elections, and the Trump administration is focused on punishment. Not support. But the American people get exactly what they deserve. More children will fall through the cracks because the cracks got a lot bigger. Much of this will cause programs for adolescents simply go underground so as to avoid federal oversight. It’s hard to evaluate programs when you cannot find them. Many of us are used to programs being scaled back. But this is not that. This is the wholesale elimination of support especially for kids from one parent households and poor children. What advocates do not seem to understand is that the government is punishing anyone who disagrees with Trump’s vision of the universe. Undocumented kids are under siege. Anyone who wants to support kids at risk is going to have to do so in surreptitious, subversive ways. People like me were off the grid anyway. But people who are used to applause and attention in terms of what they do are in for a big surprise. That whole paradigm will change. You are either ahead of or behind that curve.

You need art programs for kids at risk because children with no internal structures that define them search for validation typically in ways that are self-defeating. The family as the organic institution that forms values simply isn’t relevant to children whose families have fallen through the cracks. Something has to step in. But the ability to step in or step up is under assault.