Pages tagged "News Article"
Local View: Protect Child Nutrition
One in five children in America lives with hunger, and about the same percentage lives in poverty. We would hope that Congress would respond to this urgent threat to our future with a bold plan to protect kids. Instead, the U.S. House of Representatives may soon consider legislation that would make both problems worse. The good news is that U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry can help.
The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) is an investment in child nutrition. Forty-seven cents of every SNAP dollar goes to feed children, and SNAP makes it possible for 20 million children -- including more than 83,000 in Nebraska -- to get the food they need to grow up healthy and stay focused in school. Especially now, SNAP has been a lifeline for children battered by tough times, as parents who never before faced such obstacles have been forced to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table.
SNAP is also a proven defense against poverty. More and more American families are getting by on less and less these days. And knowing that SNAP is there to make groceries more affordable, letting parents pay the rent, put gas in the car and meet their children’s other basic needs. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says SNAP reduced the severity of child poverty by 27 percent in 2009.
SNAP works. It does its job: it protects children from hunger and poverty. The current proposal from the House of Representatives is to cut $16 billion from SNAP. They say children won’t suffer -- that they’re just “closing loopholes.” But that just doesn’t add up. Nearly half of every SNAP dollar goes to children, and their plan would mean billions fewer SNAP dollars, so the only logical conclusion is that this dangerous plan will mean more children living with hunger and more children crushed by poverty.
When you consider that proponents of these SNAP cuts also are cutting national investments in child care, children’s health, the Child Tax Credit and child abuse prevention and response, it raises serious questions about the priorities of our nation’s leaders. For most people -- and for all parents -- the short definition of progress is when children are better off than their parents. When a family falls on hard times, no responsible parent’s first budget solution would be denying food to his or her children. No responsible government should solve budget problems that way, either.
Yes, the federal government has serious budget problems. But hungry children didn’t cause them, and cutting child nutrition is the wrong way to solve them.
This debate will soon come to a head, as the House considers SNAP funding as part of updated “Farm Bill” legislation. And, as a member of the House committee that writes the Farm Bill, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry can help. The Senate has rejected SNAP cuts similar in focus and scale to those proposed by the House. We urge Rep. Fortenberry and others in Nebraska’s congressional delegation to protect child nutrition.
Voters elect lawmakers to solve the problems children face, not to make them worse. Once our leaders in Congress have put these shortsighted SNAP cuts aside, they can get on with the serious business of finding real budget solutions that don’t deny Nebraska children the food they need to grow and thrive.
Carolyn D. Rooker is executive director of Voices for Children in Nebraska. Bruce Lesley is president of First Focus Campaign for Children.
Make Next Federal Education Law Work
The article about Virginia's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver ("Virginia freed from federal No Child Left Behind education law," Web, Sunday) rightly observed that NCLB isn't working. If we're not careful, the next federal education law won't work, either.
The House education committee has passed an NCLB update that falls short of delivering what schools and kids need. It shortchanges early education. It undermines commitments to close the funding gap between rich and poor school districts, and the performance gap between students in those schools. It eliminates existing teacher qualification standards and restricts class-size-reduction efforts. And it weakens school accountability.
A strong education proposal invests in early education so kids aren't already behind on their first day of kindergarten. It insists on attainable standards and delivers the funding to recruit and pay for the best teachers and individualized support to meet each student's needs. That's what every parent would want, and it's what every Washington-area taxpayer must demand.
If our leaders in Congress don't insist on improvements during this year's House floor debate, we could be right back here in 10 years wondering why the new NCLB law didn't work.
First Focus Campaign for Children
Advocates: One million homeless students shows consequence of lack of affordable housing
The number of homeless children in public schools is up 57 percent since the start of the last recession.
That gloomy figure -- from the U.S. Department of Education -- was highlighted by the First Focus Campaign for Children, a Washington-based nonprofit. Across America, classrooms are filled with more than 1 million homeless students, the highest number in the country’s history, First Focus says.
Common-sense bill for homeless kids
Thanks to Louis Medina of the United Way of Kern County for highlighting child homelessness in his June 12 Community Voices piece, "Our plan: House area's 12 most at-risk street folk and save lives." It's a problem Rep. Kevin McCarthy can help to solve.
More than 700,000 homeless children lead transient lives -- hotel one night, a friend's couch the next. The roof over their heads isn't theirs, and they may lose it tomorrow. In every way that matters, they're homeless.
But the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says they're not, technically. So HUD won't help them find a safe place to stay, food or clothing. HUD's definition actually ignores an estimated three-fourths of homeless kids.
The Homeless Children and Youth Act, by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., fixes the problem, making HUD's definition reflect reality. And McCarthy serves on the congressional committee with jurisdiction over the bill.
With his leadership, we can pass this common-sense legislation, make government work better and help homeless children.
First Focus Campaign for Children
First Focus Campaign for Children
We are talking on the issue with Jared Soloman , he’s the Senior Director of Budget Policy at First Focus Campaign For Children. They’re advocating for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions.
Their View: Bill would make it easier to help homeless kids
Every child should look forward to summertime, but for the nearly 1 million homeless children in America, summer's not a vacation. For them, school offers safety, food, and community support. When school ends, they can't get these basic necessities at home, because they don't have a home of their own. Worse yet, it's government red tape that prevents local leaders from helping these kids. But Representative Steve Pearce can help.
It's no secret that Las Cruces families face real challenges in a tough economy. The signs are all around, as job losses and foreclosures have made it harder for many local families to meet kids' basic needs. You might not always see the consequences, because more than 700,000 homeless kids aren't always visible on the streets. They live a transient life — hotel rooms when their parents can afford it, on a friend's couch for a night or two, then on to another place. They may have a roof over their heads tonight, but it's not their roof, and they never know if they'll lose it tomorrow. In every way that matters, these kids are homeless.
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes that kids forced from their homes need a little extra help. But, because they're not on the street every day, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) maintains that these children are not technically "homeless." The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that HUD's definition ignores 81 percent of New Mexico's homeless children.
This Week in Poverty: Disposable Families in Ohio
The Nation's This Week in Poverty
Fortunately Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced an amendment that restores the $4.5 billion cut to SNAP over ten years and invests $500 million in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program, which provides healthy produce to more than 3 million children through their local schools. The Gillibrand amendment seems to be gaining momentum, with more senators singing on as cosponsors. You can reach your senators and tell them to cosponsor through the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
“Nearly half of every SNAP dollar goes to feed children, and with one in five children already affected by hunger, Senator Gillibrand’s amendment comes at a critical moment for America’s kids,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children.
Ryan budget hurts children
It was encouraging to read "State poverty drops in recession, study finds," that federal initiatives such as SNAP (formerly food stamps), Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (BadgerCare in Wisconsin), child care and tax credits for working families are protecting Wisconsin families from the recession's worst consequences (JSOnline, April 25).
It makes me ask: Why does the U.S. House budget plan crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) cut all of them?
We're a kids' advocacy group, and kids have a lot at stake in this debate. The Ryan budget makes hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to children's health, and legislative packages required by the budget already have proposed billions more in cuts to SNAP (about half of which serves kids) and child care, as well as changes that would deny 5.5 million kids the Child Tax Credit.
Politicians always say they want government to work. The study proved what Wisconsin parents have known for years - that investments in kids pay off every day. So let's tell Ryan and his colleagues to stop pointing fingers and protect the investments that protect Wisconsin kids and families.
President, First Focus Campaign for Children
House Committee’s Budget Plan Threatens the Health Coverage of Millions of Children
Washington – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee voted 30-22 to pass legislation that could negatively impact the health insurance coverage of millions of children. The legislation, required by the House budget resolution for federal fiscal year 2013, would cut $113 billion out of health insurance and public health programs across the country.
Among the cuts, the budget package would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement, which protects coverage for low-income children and other vulnerable populations by requiring states to maintain their pre-ACA Medicaid eligibility rules through 2019. If this provision is repealed, an estimated 14 million children currently covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid would be put at risk for losing coverage. The CBO analysis indicates that over 90 percent of the cuts from this provision would apply to CHIP, as states could cut or repeal their CHIP programs and children would either become uninsured or move into the health insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The remaining 10 percent of the cuts would apply to Medicaid and might also largely fall on children.
The Committee’s reconciliation package would also repeal the ACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, defund grants to help states set up health exchanges, reduce payments to hospitals that serve a greater-than-average share of patients covered by Medicaid, cap Medicaid provider tax rates, and cut Medicaid funding to the territories. Additionally, the Committee voted to end the CHIPRA bonus payments that reward states for increasing children covered by Medicaid and streamlining enrollment. Overall, $22 billion would be cut directly from the Medicaid program.
In response to the Committee’s action, First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley issued the following statement:
“By every measure, Medicaid and CHIP work. Medicaid and CHIP allow 30 million kids to get the quality care they need to grow and thrive. Unfortunately, striking the MOE would put the future of CHIP in jeopardy with children either losing coverage entirely or, ironically, move into less comprehensive coverage in the health insurance exchanges that Republicans have fought against. Moreover, with $22 billion in proposed federal cuts to Medicaid, the coverage and access to care of millions of additional low-income children would be put at risk.
“With one-in-five children living in poverty, this isn’t the time to take children’s health care away. And making kids uninsured doesn’t mean they stop getting sick, so when their parents can’t pay at the ER, it’s small businesses and families with private insurance that will have to pay when providers shift those costs. The House should reject this shortsighted plan, so millions of kids can continue to get the care they need and we can continue the serious business of making health care work.”
Click here for a fact sheet detailing the cuts to children's health from First Focus, a national children's advocacy organization affiliated with the First Focus Campaign for Children.
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.
Advocates fear tax-credit rule will exclude some from health-care benefit
Consumer advocates oppose the rule because it bases affordability on how much employees would pay to cover themselves, not on the cost of covering their entire family. As a result, they say, many workers will be unable to afford family coverage, yet their spouses and children will be ineligible to get help to buy insurance. An estimated 3.9 million dependents would be affected, according to one estimate.
“The proposed rule excludes people Congress intended to cover,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children, which wrote a letter to Treasury signed by more than100 advocacy groups, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Children’s Defense Fund, the March of Dimes and the National Council of La Raza.