Pages tagged "Poverty & Family Economics"
Our nation’s children face an array of problems, including poverty, violence, abuse, neglect, hunger, poor nutrition, education inequity, homelessness, lack of health coverage, infant and child mortality, and family separations in mixed-status households. These obstacles demand attention, policy solutions, political will, and action that to make children a priority.
Unfortunately, kids are far too often an afterthought in Congress. The problem is that children can’t vote and don’t have Political Action Committees (PACs) that garner and demand attention.
Children need Champions and Defenders, who are willing to focus on, support, raise their voices, and attach their name to legislation that would improve the lives of our nation’s children and actively oppose legislation that would harm kids.
In an attempt to recognize the lawmakers in the First Session of the 115th Congress who are actively working and trying to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, to improve the lives of our nation’s children through the policy process, we are pleased to present our Champions and Defenders for Children Scorecard.
See also the previous award recipients:
First Focus Campaign for Children released its 2017 Champions Scorecard. In an attempt to recognize the lawmakers in the First Session of the 115th Congress who are actively working and trying to improve the lives of our nation’s children through public policy change, to improve the lives of our nation’s children through the policy process, we are pleased to present awards to 120 legislators who have made children a priority.
The 2017 Champions for Children Scorecard includes key votes on health-related bills and amendments to tax legislation, including two House votes on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, two Senate votes on child tax credit amendments, and four votes between the two chambers on the Affordable Care Act. Learn more and view the report at www.championsforchildren2017.com.
Thank legislators who put the needs of children over politics, and share this scorecard resource by using our social media kit.
July 19, 2018, Washington, D.C.—In a year marked by partisanship, several Members of Congress stood out as Champions and Defenders of children, according to the 2017 Legislative Scorecard released by First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC), a national bipartisan children’s advocacy group.
“Even though child advocates had to defend a whole range of legislative and regulatory attacks on children, we identified 120 Members of Congress who chose to make children a priority. We commend their leadership and hope they will inspire their colleagues to do the same,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children.
Of note is that, in the 115th Congress, women are 2.6 times more likely to be named a champion or defender of children than men.
The 2017 Champions for Children Scorecard includes key votes on health-related bills and amendments to tax legislation, including two House votes on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, two Senate votes on child tax credit amendments, and four votes between the two chambers on the Affordable Care Act.
For instance, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017 (P.L. 115-97) will increase the deficit by approximately $1.5 trillion, which the next generation will pay off well into the future. The deficit will also trigger cuts to numerous programs vital to children, including Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered an amendment to further expand the CTC by increasing its refundability (make it refundable against payroll taxes), which would have benefitted lower income families. Sadly, despite 68 senators voting for it, the amendment did not pass as senators failed to overcome opposition from Senate leadership and the Trump Administration.
In July 2017, the Senate voted down the “Health Care Freedom Act” (H.R. 1628), which would have resulted in an estimated 16 million Americans losing health coverage and a 20 percent increase in insurance premiums. The First Focus Campaign for Children strongly opposed the bill, and we thank all the members of the Senate who voted against it, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John McCain (R-AZ).
Out of 90 bills that FFCC is tracking, The Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2017 (S.1630/H.R.3381), would mandate that the federal government create a plan to cut the number of children in poverty by half in ten years and to eliminate child poverty in twenty years. That legislation was sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), who accumulated the most points in the Senate and House for their votes and work on legislation for children.
This is First Focus Campaign for Children’s eighth annual class of Champions and Defenders for Children.
Champions for Children
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
- Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
- Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
- Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
- Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
- Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
- Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
- Rep. Lou Correa(D-CA)
- Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT)
- Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
- Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA)
- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
- Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)
- Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
- Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
- Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL)
- Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
- Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
- Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI)
- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
- Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA)
- Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
- Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
- Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
- Rep. James McGovern (D-MA)
- Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)
- Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
- Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
- Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
- Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
- Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
- Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
- Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL)
- Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
Defenders of Children
- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
- Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
- Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
- Sen. Angus King (I-ME)
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA)
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
- Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
- Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
- Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
- Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)
- Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
- Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)
- Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
- Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA)
- Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)
- Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
- Rep. André Carson (D-IN)
- Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)
- Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
- Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA)
- Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
- Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
- Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY)
- Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA)
- Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
- Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL)
- Rep. Gene Green (D-TX)
- Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
- Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX)
- Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
- Rep. John Katko (R-NY)
- Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA)
- Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)
- Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ)
- Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI)
- Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI)
- Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
- Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
- Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY)
- Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA)
- Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
- Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
- Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA)
- Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL)
- Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA)
- Rep. José Serrano (D-NY)
- Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL)
- Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)
- Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
- Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA)
- Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)
- Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
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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 the priority in federal policy and budget decisions.
The bipartisan Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2017, led by Congressman Steve Stivers, would remove barriers that communities face in addressing family, child and youth homelessness and give them the flexibility to tailor homeless assistance interventions based on the unique needs of their homeless population. Communities would have the discretion to target services based on local assessment of need, and serve the most vulnerable homeless children, youth and families, despite what form of homelessness they are experiencing.
We are writing to express our support for adequate funding for the U. S. Census Bureau in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 to provide for the fair, equitable and successful implementation of the decennial census so that young people do not go undercounted. As you know, the U.S. Constitution requires an accurate count of the nation’s population every ten years, yet unfortunately, the 2020 Census remains underfunded. We urge you to fund the U.S. Census Bureau at the level of at least $1.848 billion for FY’18 and at least $4.735 billion in FY’19.
The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. This act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system. The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in congregate care.
“The only simple thing about this tax bill is that the bulk of its benefits flow to wealthy families and corporations at the expense of working families and children. Corporations will enjoy a steep decrease in their tax rate, which will plummet from 35 percent to 21 percent, permanently.
In 2027, nearly 83% of the tax breaks are projected to go to the top 1% of earners. On the other hand, hard-working families with children, especially those in poverty, will, at best, see modest—but temporary—tax breaks, with the poorest left out entirely. Sadly, in the name of a partisan victory and so-called simplification of our tax code, the President and his Congressional Majority have ushered through a tax overhaul in record time with no regard for legislative process or bipartisanship. The result heavily and shamefully favors the wealthiest.
At the same time that extraordinary measures were used to rush a deficit-ballooning tax bill to the President, an extremely successful and bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired. Ironically, this upside-down prioritization stems from claims that the $8 billion CHIP cost requires funding offsets. This explanation for inaction on CHIP is appalling given that the tax bill will cost more than 100 times that over the next five years.
In addition, this unfair, lopsided and insulting tax bill gambles with our children’s future by relying on unfounded expectations for economic growth. Congress’ own independent analysts estimate that this tax bill will increase the deficit by $1.45 trillion. Our young people can expect to shoulder this debt burden, experience shrinking social services and ultimately pay for the tax cuts with higher taxes.
Already, the tax bill’s supporters have indicated they will dismantle the social safety net to compensate for this explosion in the deficit. This endangers critical programs that serve families and children, such as Medicaid, temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), child nutrition programs, and housing assistance. Families cannot afford to lose these crucial supports, which are already receiving a declining share of the federal budget. As of 2017, less than 8 percent of total federal spending goes to children.
Supporters of the tax bill have chosen to reward corporations and the wealthiest over children. The First Focus Campaign for Children finds this behavior intolerable and unconscionable and will continue to fight to ensure these policymakers no longer view our children as an afterthought.”
WASHINGTON--The First Focus Campaign for Children applauds the introduction of the American Family Act of 2017, which would expand the Child Tax Credit to more effectively target low-income families and thereby reduce child poverty.
Introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the proposal would triple the maximum value of the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under six), index the credit to inflation, and for the first time, make it fully refundable. The bill would also distribute the CTC as a monthly $250 credit ($350 for children under six), giving families support throughout the year to address monthly expenses rather than forcing them to wait for an annual lump sum.
Unlike last month’s flawed “Big Six” tax Framework, which targets an expansion of the Child Tax Credit to middle class and wealthy families, Bennett and Brown’s proposal would target families with the greatest need and provide critical support for families with children who are struggling to get by.
First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley said:
“We enthusiastically support this proposal from Senators Brown and Bennett, two tireless champions for children on Capitol Hill.
We know that increasing household income leads to improvements in child development and educational attainment. The American Family Act of 2017 would go a long way in improving outcomes for our nation’s children.
Researchers at Columbia University estimate the Senators’ proposal could reduce the share of children in poverty by a whopping 45 percent. Lawmakers who are serious about making children and families a priority should embrace this proposal, especially if they are concerned about the effects of child poverty on our nation’s economic future.”
On September 12, 2017 the U.S. Child Poverty Coalition, of which the First Focus Campaign for Children is a member, submitted a letter to Congress highlighting new child poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The data found that 8.2% of children are living in extreme poverty – that's more than 6 million children. While some of the rates have declined since the prior year, CPAG highlights the need for critical programs that will continue to lift children and families out of poverty.
The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act, introduced in June by House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Meadows, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan, and Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, would impose harsh new requirements on recipients of on anti-poverty programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, as well as reduce funding for federal housing assistance through transforming it into a block grant.
These new requirements would be impossible for many program participants to meet, resulting in millions of households with children losing access to nutrition, cash and housing assistance. It would require states to mandate strict work requirements for SNAP and TANF participants without any funding for child care or job training to help parents meet these requirements. And by transforming housing assistance into a block grant, funds would remain fixed at the 2016 funding level and would result in a $35 billion loss of funds by 2028.
SNAP is one of the most powerful anti-poverty programs we have. It is particularly effective because it can be responsive during times of economic downturns, helping families bridge times of temporary financial hardship. Nearly half of every SNAP dollar goes to children and SNAP is credited with reducing food insecurity among children by 33 percent after their families had been receiving SNAP benefits for about six months. SNAP is also credited with boosting academic performance in kids and laying a foundation for economic self-sufficiency.
Children make up over 70 percent of TANF recipients, but despite an increasing number of research findings on the importance of cash assistance for child development, very few families currently receive cash assistance. When TANF started in 1996, 68 percent of families in poverty received assistance, however, by 2010 that number dropped to just 27 percent, and caseloads have continued to drop even though need has not decreased.
First Focus’s 2016 Children’s Budget Book found that nearly a quarter of tenant-based rental assistance funding goes to children. Access to housing assistance remains extremely limited - only one in four families who are eligible for rental assistance in the U.S. receive it. By replacing these programs with block grants, as the bill proposes, would limit access to housing assistance even further and eliminate subsidies for 2.6 million low-income households.
Child poverty remains stubbornly high in the U.S. and would be a lot higher without these critical programs. These programs lift millions of children out of poverty each year – SNAP, TANF and housing subsidies collectively lifted more than two million children out of poverty in 2015.
By making it harder for parents and guardians to meet the requirements for these programs, children lose out. The child poverty rate would rise, resulting in potentially millions of children experiencing increased food insecurity, housing instability, toxic stress and other consequences that all negatively affect healthy child development and academic achievement. Many parents of households receiving SNAP and TANF already work, but don’t make enough to make ends meet without critical assistance.
This legislation is the wrong direction to combat child poverty in the U.S. Instead, we need to further invest in effective anti-poverty programs and build on what works.
This includes establishing a universal child allowance, which would ensure that every child in the U.S. lives in a household with an income sufficient to meet their basic needs and support their healthy development. This amount should be large enough to ensure that every child is lifted out of poverty and is not subject to the whim of economic downturns or parental labor participation. All other Anglo-American countries (Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia) provide some form of universal child or family benefit, and all have lower child poverty rates than the U.S.
For additional resources on reducing child poverty: