Pages tagged "Poverty & Family Economics"
WASHINGTON–The Child Poverty Reduction Act (S.1630 / H.R.3381) was reintroduced today by US Sens. Bob Casey (PA), Tammy Baldwin (WI), and Sherrod Brown (OH) and US Reps. Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40). The bill creates a national target to reduce child poverty in the US by 50 percent in ten years and eliminate it entirely within 20 years.
The legislation complements efforts by leaders of the National Association of Counties (NACo) to reduce early childhood poverty.
“We need a strong federal-state-local partnership to effectively combat poverty in the United States,” said Roy Charles Brooks, Texas Commissioner of Tarrant County and incoming NACO President. “Counties invest in critical services that break cycles of poverty and help children and families thrive. We applaud this legislation as part of this effort to reduce childhood poverty by removing barriers and building opportunities for children across the country.”
During his term at the helm of NACo, Brooks said he plans to focus on addressing early childhood poverty and the county role in helping low-income families find paths to success.
A recent study conducted by the University of Maryland found overwhelming public support (59 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Democrats) for cutting child poverty by half within a decade and to eliminate it in 20 years by establishing a federal working group, as proposed by the bill.
“We know the American people strongly support action to reduce child poverty, as it is a national crisis that threatens the well-being and future of the next generation.and requires attention at the federal, state and local levels in order to see real progress,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “We’re proud to endorse this bill and applaud Senators Casey, Baldwin, and Brown, and Reps. Davis, Lee, Connolly and Roybal-Allard for their coordinated leadership.”
The Child Poverty Reduction Act is modeled on a successful British effort that significantly reduced child poverty. Key provisions of the US plan include:
- Setting a national target to cut child poverty in half in 10 years and end child poverty by within 20 years;
- Charging a Federal Interagency Working Group on Reducing Child Poverty with developing a plan to reach that target;
- Requiring the plan be developed in consultation with non-governmental entities providing social services to low-income children and families, advocacy groups that directly represent low-income children and families, policy experts, and officials of State, local, and tribal governments, including the working group of the largest State and local associations, who administer or direct policy for anti-poverty programs;
- Tasking the working group with monitoring progress toward the target.
In addition to First Focus Campaign for Children, more than 30 national and state organizations have also endorsed the Child Poverty Reduction Act.
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a nonpartisan 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. For more information, visit campaignforchildren.org.
Child poverty in the U.S. remains high, with nearly 1 in 5 children living below the poverty line in 2015. Children continue to disproportionately experience poverty in our society and are 69 percent more likely to experience poverty than adults. Furthermore, poverty is a particularly serious problem for children, who suffer negative effects for the rest of their lives after living in poverty for even a short time.
Beyond consequences for individual children, child poverty negatively affects the entire nation through increased expenditures on criminal justice and healthcare and through lost revenue and economic output. Yet there remains a lack of awareness and government accountability to address the significant problem of child poverty, and proposed solutions are too often politicized and fall along partisan lines.
Dr. Matthew Desmond on Capitol Hill with First Focus (July 19, 2017)
WASHINGTON--In a briefing on Capitol Hill today sponsored by First Focus and honorary co-host Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5), Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist Matthew Desmond and a group of experts discussed the harmful impact of the housing crisis on children.
Each year, millions of families in the US are evicted from their homes. Families with children are evicted at much higher rates, and children who experience eviction often face high rates of mobility and unstable living environments that can have a negative impact on their education, physical health, mental health, and interpersonal relationships.
“We must address the affordable rental housing crisis by providing homes that are both safe and affordable,” said Rep. Ellison. “It is wrong to force families to choose between affordable housing or safe housing. Millions of parents and children are affected by the housing crisis – in Minnesota, more than 60% of low and middle income renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent. That’s unacceptable.”
At the briefing, First Focus Campaign for Children released 11 policy recommendations to support children and families facing eviction and boost housing stability. They include increasing the supply of affordable housing, expanding access to civil legal services, passing the Homeless Children and Youth Act (S.611/H.R.1511), and strengthening and protecting vital programs such as Medicaid, CHIP, and TANF. [See the full list].
“Interventions to support children and families who have been evicted must acknowledge all of the barriers to stability, and address both the reasons why the family was evicted as well as the trauma experienced as a result of the eviction,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley.
During the event, Desmond shared stories from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which details the plight of eight households in Milwaukee caught up in the vicious cycle of eviction. To conduct the research, Desmond spent years living among Milwaukee’s low income families who struggle to afford and maintain stable housing.
Each year, millions of American families are evicted from their homes. Families with children are evicted at much higher rates, and children who experience eviction often face high rates of mobility and unstable living environments that can have a negative impact on their education, physical health, mental health, and interpersonal relationships.
Interventions to support children and families who have been evicted must acknowledge all of the barriers to stability, and address both the reasons why the family was evicted as well as the trauma experienced as a result of the eviction.
The recommendations in this report include the following:
- Increase the supply of affordable housing
- Expand access to civil legal services
- Pass the Homeless Children and Youth Act (S. 611/H.R. 1511)
- Strengthen family tax credits
- Reform the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program
- Support transition-aged foster youth and stabilize families at risk of entering care
- Protect Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Invest in early childhood education
- Improve equity in public schools
- Address environmental hazards in housing
- Create a right to housing for children
Read the Policy Recommendations
Read the Executive Summary
Learning to drive is a rite of passage to young adulthood for millions of youth. It brings new levels of independence and opportunities, enabling young people to take themselves to school, work, and extra-curricular activities. Studies have shown that kids with access to a car do better in school, get better jobs, have more college options, and have more successful careers.
Teens in foster care often face significant barriers to obtaining a driver’s license. Some of these barriers include difficulty securing the parental or guardian permission needed to enroll in driver’s education or to secure an insurance policy, as well as an inability to pay for the various fees associated with becoming a driver. Without a driver’s license, young people in foster care often miss out on age-appropriate opportunities that contribute to success in adulthood.
The Foster Youth Driving Act introduced by US Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7) provides prospective foster parents with training to help prepare a young person to drive. It also provides funds to assist with this process such as assistance with vehicle insurance costs, driver’s education class and testing fees, and fees related to obtaining a driver’s license. Reducing these barriers will increase the sense of normalcy for foster youth and empower them to seek opportunities of higher education and gainful employment.
Several states have also passed legislation related to reducing these barriers for foster youth. Florida’s ground breaking program Keys to Independence, which works to reduce the barriers for foster youth in gaining driving experience and getting a license, was granted permanency this year. Arizona passed a bill that allows foster youth to purchase car insurance. Most recently Kentucky and South Carolina passed similar legislation that extends authorization for who can sign off for a learner’s permit and driver’s license.
Obtaining a driver’s license can play a significant role in the life of an adolescent or young adult in foster care. SPARC, an initiative of First Focus, has launched a campaign called Going Places. The campaign is dedicated to improving state policies regarding foster youth and their access to driver's licenses, driver’s education, practice hours, access to cars, and insurance.
- To read the letter of support, click here.
- Learn more about the Going Places campaign.
This bill would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, helping millions of working parents and their children.
This legislation would ban schools from stigmatizing children whose parents cannot afford to pay for their school lunches and require schools to direct communications about unpaid school lunch bills to the parent, rather than penalizing the child.
The child poverty rate in the U.S. remains extremely high: nearly 1 in 5 children in the U.S. are living below the poverty line and children are 69 percent more likely to be living in poverty than adults. Yet among the many pressing social issues facing our country, child poverty often gets overlooked.
That is why it is notable that in California, state legislators, advocates, and researchers have come together to prioritize reducing the number of children and families experiencing poverty in California.
In early March, Assembly Bill 1520, the Lifting Children and Families out of Poverty Act of 2017, was introduced by Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke (D-Marina Del Ray). This legislation would commit the California State Legislature to cut California’s child poverty rate in half within 20 years as well as providing a comprehensive framework of research-backed solutions to reach this target.
California has the highest rate of child poverty in the country when taking into account cost of living expenses. Child poverty targets have proven successful as a strategy for reducing child poverty because they provide a mechanism for advocates, media, and the public to hold the government accountable to take action and come up with a strategy to meet the target.
In 1999, the United Kingdom established a national child poverty target, which was supported by both the Conservative and Labour parties. Measured in U.S. terms, the UK’s Child Poverty Target and resulting policy changes successfully cut the UK’s absolute child poverty rate by 50 percent during the effort’s first decade. The UK successfully raised incomes, promoted work, and improved child well-being while U.S. progress in these areas stagnated.
In the U.S., Connecticut and Vermont both prioritized reducing child poverty through establishing state child poverty targets and the city of Cincinnati recently established a Child Poverty Collaborative with the goal of moving 10,000 children out of poverty within 5 years.
There has also been national legislation in the U.S. to introduce a child poverty target – last Congressional session, the Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2015 proposed establishing a national target to cut the child poverty rate in half within 10 years and eliminate it within 20 years. First Focus Campaign for Children and members of the Child Poverty Action Group are working with Congressional offices to get this legislation reintroduced this session.
There is growing momentum around AB 1520 in California, including a rally on Sunday, April 9th featuring House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA-5th) and several other California federal and state lawmakers.
First Focus Campaign for Children has endorsed AB 1520. We applaud lawmakers and advocates in California for setting an example for the nation with this landmark legislation and urge others as well both in and outside California to support AB 1520 and take action:
On March 22, the First Focus Campaign for Children submitted a letter to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Patty Murray to thank them for introducing the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 1516 / S. 636).
The Healthy Families Act would allow workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn paid sick days. In addition, it provides workers with the option to use paid leave for a variety of child health-related reasons.
This bill would make significant strides for America's working families.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2017
(Washington, D.C.) – In response to the release of the American Health Care Act by Republican leadership in the House of Representatives last evening, a bill that would repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and impose a per capita cap on the Medicaid program, First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC) releases the following statement by President Bruce Lesley:
The American Health Care Act would, as currently written, be a major step backwards for our nation’s children. The uninsured rate for children reached a record low of 4.8 percent in 2015 and has dropped by 68 percent since passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program two decades ago. As a nation, we have made enormous progress in terms of ensuring our nation’s children have health insurance coverage. Now is not the time to reverse this progress; the American Health Care Act would seriously threaten the health and well-being of millions of children.
First and foremost, FFCC strongly opposes the provisions in the bill that impose a per capita cap upon the Medicaid program, which currently provides coverage to an estimated 35 million low-income children in this country. Per capita caps are nothing more than arbitrary limits imposed upon states by the federal government that, by definition, shortchange states for the costs associated with care for children with special health care needs, such as children with cancer, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, asthma, and sickle cell anemia, or other higher-cost populations such as newborns and children in foster care. It is the care to these vulnerable groups of children that could be threatened and rationed by the federal imposition of a per capita cap on states.
In fact, since the entire purpose of a per capita cap is to cut federal support to Medicaid, states may be forced to either finance any shortfall themselves or implement various forms of rationing, such as making cuts in coverage, benefits, and payment rates to provides, shifting more costs to low-income families, or limiting access to care for children, pregnant women, adults, people with disabilities, and senior citizens. This could be an outright disaster for millions of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
Although the American Health Care Act retains the provision in the ACA that allows children to stay on their parents’ health care to age 26, which we support, it phases out parallel language that allows children in foster care to retain their Medicaid coverage to age 26 through presumptive eligibility. Children aging out of foster care are some of our nation’s most vulnerable young adults with health care needs associated with their childhood trauma that threaten their well-being. Now is not the time to impose greater administrative burdens and delays on their health coverage, while also underfinancing the care of all children in–and who have aged out of–foster care through the Medicaid per capita cap.
These provisions also violate a campaign promise by President Donald Trump to not cut the Medicaid program and to ensure that no one would lose health coverage under the bill.
As for the changes made by repealing the tax subsidies in the ACA and replacing them with a different set of tax credits in the individual market, FFCC is concerned that such changes may leave children with special health care needs particularly vulnerable. Unfortunately, the legislation currently does not include a much-needed score by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) along with an analysis of how the bill might impact existing coverage.
Congress should commit to “do no harm” to the health insurance coverage upon which our nation’s children rely. Since this bill threatens to do real harm to Medicaid coverage that an estimated 35 million count on for their care, we urge Congress to return to the drawing board, schedule congressional hearings to discuss and receiving input on health care reform proposals, allow Members of Congress and the public ample time to read and study the legislation, and wait until the CBO does its job in providing a score and analysis of how the bill would impact coverage rates and our nation’s health care system. Children deserve better than to have adults in Congress threaten their health coverage.