WOONSOCKET – U.S. Senator Jack Reed, D-RI, paid a visit to Family Resources Community Action’s 55 Main St. Employment Center Tuesday to call attention to its work and the potential impact of federal budget cuts locally.
Reed toured the Center’s youth and adult job training classrooms and spoke with Family Resources instructor Melissa Rouleau and Youth Services manager Stump Olsen about their work with area residents in the center.
There was no need to convince Reed of the agency’s importance given his past work with Executive Director Ben Lessing and Deputy Executive Director Nancy Paradee to secure federal support for the private, non-profit social service agency.
“I’m looking not only at their needs but at the great work they are doing in terms of preparing not just young people but everybody for the work force,” Reed said during the tour.
The agency has programs helping young people take their General Equivalency Diploma (GED) tests, obtain work credentials and information about jobs, and also offering help in preparing for interviews.
“The key here is getting people the skills to become independent and able to manage their own affairs,” Reed said. The programs also help build financial literacy, he noted, and Family Resources’ assistance “is something that has to be done and be done well,” he said.
Lessing said Family Resources is expecting a potential 5 percent reduction in its federal support as a result of the federal government’s sequestration funding reductions but added there could be additional impacts as the federal rollbacks affect other agencies assisting area residents.
“If HeadStart loses capacity, and in Rhode Island, HeadStart is supposed to lose 200 slots, that just sort of cascades down in terms of families who aren’t able to use daycare, who aren’t able to attend job training programs like this, and aren’t able to work,” Lessing said.
“And so it becomes a problem down the line,” he added.
Reed said the first cut under sequestration is roughly 5 percent, “and that is tough, but it continues to accelerate over time because the budget line goes down and down and down.”