Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump's budget chief defended the proposed elimination of after-school programs that support children particularly in high-poverty US districts, saying "there's no demonstrable evidence" that they improve student performance.
After-school programs are "supposed to help kids who don't get fed at home, get fed so they do better in school," Mick Mulvaney, director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, told a White House press briefing.
"Guess what? There's no demonstrable evidence they're actually doing that. That they're helping kids do better in school."
Trump's 2018 budget outline would cut the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, which funds academic enrichment programming before and after school as well as in the summers.
Cutting the afterschool scheme would also deprive low-income students, many of whom may not be fed enough at home, of the snacks supplied as part of a federally funded free meal program.
According to the Afterschool Alliance -- a coalition of public, private and nonprofit groups that works to expand afterschool program resources -- the Trump cuts would "devastate working families."
The White House call to defund the program is "a betrayal of the millions of students and parents who depend on afterschool and summer learning programs," the alliance said in a statement, noting that federal investment in afterschool programs supports more than one million children.
"It is painfully short-sighted and makes a mockery of the president's promise to make our country safer and to support inner cities and rural communities alike."
The Trump budget blueprint said eliminating funding for the programming would save $1.2 billion, saying that "the programs lack strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement."
A 2008 Harvard University study found that after-school programs not only improve academic achievement but also decrease risks of violent behavior and crime as well as drug and alcohol use among students.
Mulvaney also rebuffed concerns over proposed cuts to a program that helps fund food aid to senior citizens in need, saying it is "just not showing any results."
The Meals on Wheels nonprofit group says it serves more than 2.4 million seniors who "because of physical limitations or financial reasons, have difficulty shopping for or preparing meals for themselves."
A 2015 Brown University study found that those seniors who received home-delivered meals experienced fewer falls and hospitalizations.