Pages tagged "Poverty & Family Economics"
In 2019, nearly one-in-six of our nation’s children lived in poverty. The number of kids without health insurance rose to more than 4 million, reversing two decades of progress. More than 12 million children stared down hunger each day. And the federal government worked to deprive millions more of food, housing, and other life-sustaining assistance.
First Focus Campaign for Children today released its 2019 Legislative Scorecard, which identifies 120 members of Congress who had the courage to buck this trend and put children first. These Champions and Defenders of children introduced bills to safeguard children’s programs, supported beneficial measures and voted against those that would harm children. Some even defied their party leadership to protect children’s interests.
“Kids don’t vote and they don’t have political action committees,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “That’s why it’s up to lawmakers to make children a priority and protect their best interests. We commend these 120 members of Congress for putting children first and hope their contribution will inspire their colleagues to do the same.”
FFCC’s 2019 Legislative Scorecard ranks policymakers according to votes and bill sponsorships taken during the first session of the 116th Congress that prioritize the well-being of our nation’s children. The 25-page report examines key pieces of legislation on children’s health insurance, child hunger, homelessness, child abuse and neglect, tax credits and other issues critical to advancing the needs of our kids and families. The report names 40 Senators and 80 Representatives, from both parties, as Champions or Defenders for children in the 116th Congress.
Some key takeaways from the 2019 Scorecard:
- Women were two-and-a-half times more likely than men to be Champions or Defenders.
- Percentage of delegations who are Champions or Defenders breaks along regional lines:
- 43% of lawmakers from Western states are Champions or Defenders
- 40% of lawmakers from the Northeast are Champions or Defenders
- 21% of lawmakers from the Midwest are Champions or Defenders
- 9% of lawmakers from the Southwest/Plains states are Champions or Defenders
- 7% of lawmakers from the Southeast are Champions or Defenders. Florida leads the region with four. Other states in the region have only one.
Please view and download the full report at www.ffccscorecard.org.
Letter: Children should not be treated as an afterthought — pass these bipartisan and common sense bills
First Focus Campaign for Children sent the following letter to all 100 U.S. Senators, urging them to consider legislation that would improve the lives and well-being of children.
Excerpt from the letter:
In the past, an important hallmark of the Senate has been its ability to work on a bipartisan basis to reach agreement on major important problems facing the nation and its future. At this moment in time, there are a number of critical challenges facing our nation’s children that the Senate should address. Children should not be treated as an afterthought. The best interest of children should be bipartisan and something that is in all of our interest. Children are our future. Unfortunately, here are areas in which we are currently failing our children...
On June 18th, 2019, First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter to the Leadership of the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means and in support of changes to the tax code that lift children out poverty.
As you continue to work through a range of tax legislation addressing retirement security, the redesign of the Internal Revenue Service, an extension of temporary tax credits, and other important updates to the tax code, I write on behalf of First Focus Campaign for Children to urge you to adopt critical changes to our tax code that would reduce child poverty significantly in the near-term. As a bipartisan children’s advocacy group dedicated to ensuring that our children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions, child poverty reduction remains a chief priority for our organization. Unfortunately, child poverty remains stubbornly high in the United States, and despite economic growth and low unemployment rates, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 17.5 percent, nearly 13 million children in the U.S., lived in poverty in 2017.
This past February, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released a landmark study, A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty, confirming that child poverty is a solvable problem when there is the political will to address it. Additionally, First Focus Campaign for Children has provided an analysis distilling the nearly 600-page study to highlight the findings and policy options we find most compelling, provide commentary on how its policy and program options line up with current legislative efforts, and add contextual factors to consider for effective implementation of these policy options. Written by a committee of the nation’s leading experts on child poverty, this study puts forward an evidence-based policy agenda that, if prioritized and implemented by our nation’s lawmakers, would achieve the goal of cutting our child poverty rate in half within a decade. Modifications to the tax code are paramount to achieving that goal.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a landmark study, A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty, which confirms that child poverty is a solvable problem when there is the political will to address it. Written by a committee of the nation’s leading experts on child poverty, this study puts forward an evidence-based policy agenda that, if prioritized and implemented by our nation’s lawmakers, would cut our child poverty rate in half within a decade.
First Focus Campaign for Children put together this analysis of the nearly 600-page study to a) highlight the findings and policy options that we find most compelling, b) provide commentary on how its policy and program options line up with current legislative efforts and c) add contextual factors to consider for effective implementation of these policy options.
For more information, contact Cara Baldari, Vice President, Family Economics, Housing and Homelessness, at [email protected].
On March 6, 2019, lawmakers introduced the American Family Act of 2019--our statement below:
“I applaud the leadership of Congresswoman DeLauro and Congresswoman DelBene, as well as Senators Bennet and Brown to introduce the ‘American Family Act of 2019’ that would create a child allowance, significantly extending the current child tax credit to reach the families who need it most. The bill would increase the benefit substantially, make it fully refundable, establish a young child tax credit, authorize advance payments on a monthly basis, and adjust the benefit for inflation.
The introduction of this legislation comes on the heels of the release of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine study A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty that concludes a child allowance policy of $3,000 per child per year would produce the largest child poverty reduction, and it would also address the goal of reducing deep child poverty."
-Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children
First Focus Campaign for Children wholeheartedly supports the ‘American Family Act of 2019’ and thanks these lawmakers for continuing to be strong champions for children and families.
On February 11th, 2019, the First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter of support to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for their FAMILY Act (S. 463/H.R. 1185).
Excerpt from the Letter: Paid family leave promotes healthy child development and promotes family economic security. It gives parents a chance to adequately care for their newborns or children with special health care needs. For example, men are more involved with their child’s direct care when they are able to take off two or more weeks after the birth of their child and women are available to breastfeed their newborn.
Access to paid family leave has significant positive health implications for children and families by allowing parents to care for their children. For example, men are more involved with their child’s direct care when they are able to take off two or more weeks after the birth of their child and mothers are available to breastfeed their newborn.
Public Schools Report Highest Number of Homeless Students on Record, While HUD Claims Reduction in Family and Youth Homelessness
Washington, DC – Data released today by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grossly underestimate family and youth homelessness in the United States, according to service providers, educators, and child advocates.
HUD’s 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part I (AHAR) estimates that on a single night in January 2018, more than 180,000 parents and children were experiencing homelessness. According to HUD’s numbers, this is an 2% decrease from 2017, and a 23% decrease since 2007.
However, other public systems report significant increases in child and family homelessness. For example, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 1,354,363 homeless children and youth were identified in the 2016-2017 school year by public schools – a 4% increase from the 2015-2016 school year and a 70% increase from the 2007-2008 school year – the highest number on record. Head Start programs also reported record levels of homeless children, from 26,200 homeless children in 2007-2008 to 52,764 in 2016-2017 – a 100% increase.
The 2018 AHAR also claims that that 36,361 unaccompanied youth under age 25 were experiencing homelessness, and that 2019 will be the ‘baseline year’ for youth who experience homelessness on their own (unaccompanied homeless youth). Public schools reported 118,364 unaccompanied homeless youth, an increased of 6% since the 2015-2016 school year, the highest number on record. Last year’s first-of-its kind study on unaccompanied youth homelessness in America, Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America, found that 4.2 million young people experienced unaccompanied homelessness over a 12 month period.
HUD’s data and methodology account for only a fraction of families and youth experiencing homelessness:
- HUD’s “Point in Time” (PIT) count only measures the number of people who are in shelter or transitional housing, or who are seen during street counts. However, most families and youth who are homeless do not stay in shelters, transitional housing, or on the streets.
- Of the 1.3 million homeless children and youth identified by public schools, only 3.7% were unsheltered, and 13.9% were staying in shelters. The rest were in motels, or staying temporarily with others due to lack of alternatives.
- Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America found that of the 3.5 million 18-24 year-olds and 700,000 13-17 year-olds who experienced homelessness, nearly three quarters stayed with others while lacking a home of their own – a form of homelessness that is not included in HUD’s limited methodology.
- Shelters and transitional housing are often full, unable to serve families as a unit, do not accept unaccompanied minor youth, or simply do not exist in too many communities. When families and youth are not able to access shelter, they are less likely to be included in HUD’s counts.
- Homeless families are less likely than single adults to stay on the streets and other outdoor locations where they can be included in PIT counts, often because they are afraid of having their children being removed from their custody. Unaccompanied homeless youth fear interactions with authorities and exploitation from older adults.
- For these reasons, families and youth are much more likely to stay temporarily with other people, or in motels – situations that are very unstable, often unsafe, and put them at risk of trafficking. These more hidden forms of homelessness have been shown to have impacts that are just as negative as being homeless ‘on the streets.’
- HUD has decreased funding for transitional housing, especially for families and youth. Since 2010, there has been a loss of 5,430 temporary beds for families (shelter and transitional housing). This does not equate to a reduction in family and youth homelessness – it equates to a reduction in capacity to serve families and youth experiencing homelessness.
The bipartisan Homeless Children and Youth Act (HCYA), H.R. 1511/S. 611, addresses these shortcomings in HUD’s counts, and makes other improvements in federal policies to serve homeless families and youth. It aligns HUD’s definition of homelessness with those of other federal agencies and permits communities to use HUD homeless funding more flexibly to assess and serve the most vulnerable homeless children, youth and families identified in their area.
HCYA was approved by the House Financial Services Committee on a bipartisan basis in July. While the legislation focuses on children and youth, it ultimately will reduce homelessness among all populations by helping to prevent today’s homeless children and youth from becoming tomorrow’s homeless adults. The hundreds of organizations supporting HCYA—service providers, educators, and child advocates—urge Congress to approve the bill without delay, allowing communities to accurately identify the children, youth, and adults experiencing homelessness and to tailor local responses to effectively serve their needs.
Service providers and advocates issued the following statements in response to HUD’s release:
“We consistently see providers across the country, in all different kinds of communities, cite consistent or increased demand for services. The failure to count highly vulnerable children as homeless despite precarious and dangerous housing is short-sighted and illogical. This official assessment is at odds with observation, logic, and compassion.”
-Claas Ehlers, CEO of Family Promise
“The PIT (Point in Time) count grossly underestimates the numbers of families experiencing homelessness by excluding hundreds of thousands of children and families living in garages and basements or couches of other people. Since the PIT count drives policy and funding, this does an extreme disservice to these families, and undermines the shared goal of achieving housing stability and family well-being.”
-Ellen Bassuk, Founder and Senior Technical Advisor at The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
“We cannot stand aside and ignore the trauma that so many homeless children and youth are facing in our country. What we can do is take immediate steps by passing common-sense, bipartisan solutions like the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511/S. 611), which would acknowledge their trauma and help them get the support they need. ”
-Bruce Lesley, president, First Focus Campaign for Children
“The nation’s public schools and early childhood programs have witnessed a persistent increase in the numbers of homeless children and youth over the past decade. Schools are better positioned to know who is experiencing homelessness because they must serve all homeless children and youth, regardless of shelter capacity, and because they use a definition of homelessness that matches reality. The urgency of child and youth homelessness requires changes in HUD’s definition, data, and program models to meet the unique developmental needs of children and youth.”
-Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, SchoolHouse Connection
“HUD’s homelessness data is highly suspect, inherently biased against families, and used to support the continuation of failed policy. The federal government should not put it out to characterize trends in overall homelessness when other federal agency data tell a different story. The communities and the families and kids that we work find little comfort in government assertions that things are getting better when they see more people needing shelter, families being refused services, and growing waiting lists.”
-Paul Webster, National Coalition for Homelessness Solutions
“Americans are paying closer attention to youth and young adult homelessness than ever before, and they deserve access to the most accurate information. As last year’s nationally representative survey showing 4.2 million youth and young adult experiencing homelessness demonstrates, HUD’s PIT count falls woefully short in providing an accurate assessment of how many young people are experiencing homelessness across America. Beyond reforms to the PIT count, Congress should fund the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct another nationally representative study of youth and young adult homelessness, and communities should build on the success of local ‘youth counts’ to better understand the nature of the challenge in their community.”
-Eric Masten, National Network for Youth
The Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children & Youth connects and supports people in communities across the nation who are responding to child, youth, and family homelessness. The National Network to End Family Homelessness, an initiative of the Bassuk Center, is a provider-led response to the growing issue of child, youth, and family homelessness. Made-up of over 350 providers working directly with families across all 50 states and D.C., the Network brings evidence-based programs to every community where families experience homelessness and mobilizes political will to end this national tragedy. For more information, see http://www.bassukcenter.org/national-network/
Family Promise is comprised more than 200 Affiliates in 43 states, with more in development. Family Promise programs involve more than 200,000 volunteers to address a national crisis at a local level. Affiliates provide homelessness prevention assistance to at-risk families, shelter and meals when families lose their homes, and comprehensive case management and stabilization initiatives for families once they have been rehoused. Family Promise serves more than 90,000 family members annually and has served more than 850,000 people nationwide since their inception 30 years ago. For more information, visit https://familypromise.org
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.campaignforchildren.org.
The National Coalition for Homelessness Solutions is a provider-initiated and provider-led coalition dedicated to making policy changes that support homeless families, children, and youth. For more information, visit http://solvefamilyhomelessness.org
The National Network for Youth (NN4Y) has been a public education and policy advocacy organization dedicated to the prevention and eradication of youth homelessness in America for over 40 years. As the largest and most diverse network of its kind, NN4Y mobilizes over 300 members and affiliates — organizations that work on the front lines every day to provide prevention services and respond to runaways and youth experiencing homelessness and human trafficking. For more information, visit www.nn4youth.org.
SchoolHouse Connection is a national non-profit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. SchoolHouse Connection engages in strategic advocacy and provides technical assistance in partnership with early care and education professionals (including school district homeless liaisons and state homeless education coordinators), young people, service providers, advocates, and local communities. For more information, visit www.schoolhouseconnection.org
Statements from Local Family Service Providers on 2018 HUD Point In Time (PIT) Counts
“In terms of capacity and need, we continue to see families needing access to our emergency shelter. In 2016 and 2017 we served over 200 families, which represents some of highest numbers in our organization’s thirty-two-year history. In 2018, we’ve already had 555 families call for services to be placed on our waitlist. As a shelter that only can serve 21 families at a time. The volume and need locally can be overwhelming at times.”
"Philadelphia's PIT numbers under-report thousands of youth and families who experience homelessness. The School District identified 6,583 children and youth who experienced homelessness in the 2016-2017 School Year, compared to the 1,508 children under 18 years of age identified by the PIT count in FY 2017. As a result, Philadelphia devotes very few resources to addressing youth homelessness. In addition, the City turns away families from accessing emergency housing, but does not consider that number in its PIT calculations. These experiences thwart Philadelphia's ability to adequately address family and youth homelessness."
“Saint John's operates the largest shelter in the region and the only one focused exclusively on homeless women and children. We have increased our capacity by over 30% in the last 14 months, from 180 women and children daily, to 270 daily. However, in spite of being able to serve more women and children daily, our waiting list has held steady at 250 women and children for the past four years.”
“We get as many as 175 calls in a month from homeless women seeking shelter. Over half are women with children. Sadly our family program is small and in Baltimore many of the available shelter programs to families have shut their doors in past years. I worry that these women and their children are forced to stay in unsafe conditions and with unsafe people due to the lack of resources in our community. I am sure most of them are living among the hidden homeless and not being ‘counted’ in our local PIT count.”
-Katie Allston, Executive Director, Marian House, 410-467-4121 *229,[email protected]
“Santa Barbara County’s most recent Point in Time count (2017) of homeless people does not even bother to break out the number of homeless families in the county; it only reports on gender and age. The report even states that due to HUD regulations, many people who are homeless in the County are not able to be included. Yet in 2017, the Santa Barbara Unified School District stated that 14.3 percent of its students are classified as homeless, according to U.S. Department of Education’s definition of homelessness. In the last five years, Transition House has consistently maintained a waitlist for its 70-bed shelter of 25 to 50 families at a time. Based on the need we are seeing, we find the school district’s assessment of homelessness a much more accurate picture than HUD’s.”
-Kathleen Baushke, Executive Director, Transition House, Santa Barbara, CA, 805-966-9668, [email protected]
“We get an average of 6-8 calls a day for people who are homeless and in need of services. Unfortunately, sleeping in cars or living in hotels doesn’t qualify as an emergency enough to receive funds for our program.”
Blueprint Shows How 116th Congress Can Act on the Best Interests of Children (more…)
Any policies that affect children should base their foundations on the best interests of the child.
Statement for the Record: Examining the Importance of Paid Family Leave for American Working Families
First Focus Campaign for Children submitted this Statement for the Record to U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy for the hearing titled, "Examining the Importance of Paid Family Leave for American Working Families."
The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act of 2017, introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), would create a program that combines employer and employee payroll contributions to create a shared fund for paid family and medical leave for all employers of all sizes. Workers in all companies would be eligible for up to 12 weeks of partial income, earning 66 percent of their monthly wages up to a capped amount, for family and medical leave. Paid leave could be used during a pregnancy, for childbirth recovery, serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner, adoption of a child, and/or military caregiving and leave.
The FAMILY Act would allow for working individuals to take paid time off, and would not discriminate based on gender or the nature of their job. By allowing both parents to take valuable time off after the birth or adoption of a child, men are able to be more involved in direct care, therefore creating greater equality in households.