Adult Education and the Shutdown

(Update Below)

Most everyone working in the field of adult education is already aware of this, but for those who are wondering, federal funding for adult education is generally not affected by the federal government hoedown shutdown. Workforce Investment Act (WIA) dollars—the biggest source of federal funding for adult education—are forward funded, meaning that states obtain their WIA Title II funding for the fiscal year that began today during the prior fiscal year. As a result, there shouldn’t be a major impact on adult education during the shutdown.

There are, of course, other federal programs that provide funds or support to adult education. There are AmeriCorps members, for example, who work at adult education programs. But they will not have to pack up and go home—any previously awarded CNCS grant or cooperative agreement should not be affected. (I have read at least one story suggesting that AmeriCorps members would not receive their living allowance stipends during the shutdown, but based on my experience running an AmeriCorps program, I don’t understand why this would be the case, unless the AmeriCorps project grant wasn’t due to be awarded until after September 30th.)

Another example: Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). A few adult education programs (mainly in urban areas) receive CDBG funding, and some reports (such as here and here) are suggesting  that some municipalities may experience delays in accessing these funds, even if they were already obligated for fiscal year 2014, because federal officials may not be available to approve disbursements.

I’m sure there are other examples, (let me know if I’ve missed any), but again, I think the impact on adult education—at least in the short run—is going to be pretty minimal.

Bear in mind, however, that there are several federal programs relied on by some low-income people enrolled in adult education that will be affected. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) has just published a brief report, What a Federal Government Shutdown Could Mean to Low-Income People, that is a useful guide to those programs.

UPDATE: The National Skills Coalition has a preliminary rundown on the impact of the shutdown on certain employment and training programs. Also, as this blog post points out, this is not the best week to be doing literacy research—at least if you are looking for NAAL literacy estimates—since the NCES Web site, like most other federal government Web sites, is offline.