Government Shutdown Resources and Information for Families


I know we’re all feeling a little bit anxious about the possibility of a(nother) government shutdown and the unexpected loss of income. It’s a lot to take in, especially when we’re already juggling so many things. We’re worried about how we’re going to pay our bills, put food on the table and take care of our families. We’re also worried about our jobs, our children’s education and the future of our country.

With our proximity to the Capitol and the largest population of employees working for the government in some capacity, shutdowns disproportionately impact our families, especially those with two working parents in the federal government.

But we’re moms, and we’re resourceful. We’ve got this! We’ll come together as a community and support each other. We always find ways to make ends meet and get through difficult times.

boy holding a Government shutdown sign in front of the capitol building

Here are some DMV-specific resources and information to help you and your family prepare for a government shutdown:

Financial Resources

  • Unemployment: File for unemployment the first day (or second day) of the government shutdown and expect that it may take some time to process. Remeber to file in the state in which you work, not reside. Note that unemployment checks will need to be repaid if you are a furloughed employee who recieves back pay.
  • No-Interest Loans: Some banks, such as USAA and PenFed, are offering no-interest loans as part of a Government Shutdown Program. In past years, additional banks rolled out assistance and programs as shutdowns prolonged into multiple weeks (and missed paychecks).
  • Additionally, anyone impacted by the shutdown should immediately contact any lenders, credit cards, student loan servicers or insurance companies — many will waive late fees and other penalties.
  • If the government shutdown is prolonged, rental, utility and phone carrier assistance will be rolled out to furloughed employees.

Food Resources

  • Capital Area Food Bank: The Capital Area Food Bank is the largest food bank in the Washington, D.C. area. They provide food to over half a million area residents every year. They are prepared to provide groceries at pop-up locations for federal employees as soon as next week (week of 10/1).
  • Bread for the City: Bread for the City is a non-profit organization that provides fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and shelf-stable items every week to families in need. They also make an extra effort to help furloughed employees during government shutdowns.
  • Martha’s Table: Martha’s Table, a non-profit that provides produce and pantry items to people in need in the DC area, may extend food donation policies and hours during a government shutdown, as they have done in the past.

Childcare Resources

Please note that federal childcare centers have not been deemed “essential” in the past and have closed during government shutdowns. This may create a conflict if you are not furloughed but need access to childcare that was previously provided by a federal center.

  • YMCA of Metropolitan Washington: The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington offers a variety of childcare programs, including before-school care, after-school care and full-day care. They may offer discounts or payment deferrals to federal employees and contractors during a government shutdown.
  • DC Department of Human Services: The DC Department of Human Services offers a variety of childcare assistance programs to low-income families. They may offer additional assistance to federal employees and contractors during a government shutdown.
  • Plan as far in advance as possible and seek help from friends and family members. You can also look into private childcare providers and in-home daycares.

Other Resources

  • Furlough Donations and Deals: If the government shutdown continues, restaurant chains, local businesses and even places like gyms and sports clubs may offer free items or deals to furloughed workers. Be on the lookout for additional resources if we unfortunately have to endure a long shutdown.
  • Pet Resources: The DC Pet Pantry, a non-profit organization that provides free pet food to DC residents in need, is available to help support pet owners and their furry friends during challenging times.

I know that this is a lot of information to take in, but I hope it’s helpful. Remember, we’re all in this together. And we’ll get through it.

Tips During a Government Shutdown

In the meantime, here are a few tips for staying calm and positive during a government shutdown:

  • Stay connected with your community. My local neighborhood parents’ group is where I usually turn for emergency daycare recommendations and where I first hear of local restaurants offering furlough meals. Our community is full of helpful information that people are ready to share.
  • Connect with other moms. Talk to your friends, neighbors, and other moms in your community about what you’re going through. Knowing that you’re not alone can make a big difference. Be sure to check out this guide on Where to Play During the Government Shutdown for free and low-cost activities for families.
  • Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising. It’s also important to find time for activities that you enjoy.
  • Stay positive. It’s easy to get discouraged during a government shutdown, but try to focus on the things you can control. Remind yourself that the shutdown will eventually end and that everything will be okay.