Pages tagged "Press Release"
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a sweeping overhaul of our nation’s health care system. The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, praised the House for passing historic legislation that moves America closer to universal coverage for children. Specifically, the package preserves and extends the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through September 30, 2019 with full funding extended through fiscal year 2015. In addition, the legislation ensures that, starting immediately, no child can be denied health care coverage based on a pre-existing condition.
First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley released the following statement:
“President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Leader Reid should be praised for their efforts to ensure national health reform made children a top priority. This new health reform bill is better for children than those passed in the House of Representatives or the Senate individually. Importantly, it adopts the Senate language that protects and expands the Children's Health Insurance Program for millions of children through 2015. The compromise bill also moves toward better positions for children in the House bill, by ensuring no child can be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Further, the compromise favors the House's focus on making the new ‘health insurance exchanges’ affordable for low-income families. And finally, it exceeds both chambers’ bills by providing additional federal fiscal support to state Medicaid and CHIP programs, ensuring that access to coverage is improved for all low-income children.
“When President Obama began the fight to reform our nation’s health care system, he promised that we would ‘fix what’s broken and build on what works.’ We are pleased to see Congress and the President adhere to this principle, by passing reform legislation that ensures every American child will have access to affordable, quality health coverage. And throughout this process, Senators Robert Casey, Jay Rockefeller, Jeff Bingaman, Robert Menendez, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd, Debbie Stabenow and Reps. Linda Sanchez, Rosa DeLauro, Bobby Scott, Bobby Rush, and Lois Capps have been champions for children, ensuring our young people are not adversely affected by health reform. We thank them and Congressional leadership for their commitment to the health and wellbeing of our nation's future leaders."
The organization also lauded the inclusion of simplified enrollment measures that cut the red tape families currently deal with when enrolling their children in CHIP and/or Medicaid. Further, the proposal allows children to stay on their parents' health plan through age 26.
This legislation follows a First Focus public opinion survey finding that providing health coverage for all children is at the top of the public’s priorities for health care reform.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Committee on Agriculture considers critical legislation that will reauthorize the federal Child Nutrition Program. The legislation, known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, was recently introduced by committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-AK).
The First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC), a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, praised the introduction of the legislation as vital to reducing childhood hunger, improving nutritional quality, and modernizing and simplifying existing nutrition programs.
“Chairman Lincoln’s legislation proposes unprecedented investments to make our children healthier both inside and outside of the classroom. It expands the After School Meals Program to all 50 states and takes steps to make school lunches healthier. Further, the Chairman’s ‘mark’ makes children in foster care automatically eligible for free school meals – a critical addition to populations who are ‘categorically eligible’ for assistance. Importantly, Chairman Lincoln’s bill simplifies and reduces paperwork requirements for all Child and Adult Care Food Programs, cutting the red tape associated with providing children meals in day care settings,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the Campaign for Children.
“The Chairman has provided $4.5 billion dollars over 10 years for investments and improvements to crucial children’s programs. While this is not the amount called for by the President’s budget, we applaud Senator Lincoln for this groundbreaking investment that acknowledges the importance of access to nutritious meals. We look forward to working with the Senator as she leads Congress in the fight to reauthorize and secure funds that will eliminate child hunger and reduce childhood obesity,” Lesley added.
The legislation contains critical provisions that establish demonstration projects to expand the "direct certification process," through which school districts use information from state welfare or food stamp offices to certify children to receive free meals. Under the Act, Medicaid children in select Congressional districts would be directly certified, while benchmarks and incentive bonuses for states to improve their direct certification methods would be established.
In addition, the bill includes provisions that provide the Secretary of Agriculture with the authority to establish national nutrition standards for all foods, while also allocating mandatory funding for schools to institute Farm-to-School Programs. In addition, the bill modernizes and improves the successful Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children program by implementing an Electronic Benefit Transfer, while also extending WIC’s current 6 month certification period to a 1 year certification period.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) introduced the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act, legislation that would implement critically needed reforms to protect children and families impacted by immigration enforcement. The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, voiced its strong support for the legislation, which includes key provisions that will safeguard child well-being and family unity.
Specifically, the bill would ensure that parents and guardians apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or its surrogates are identified in a timely manner and provided the opportunity to make care arrangements for their minor children upon apprehension. The bill would prevent prolonged parent-child separation or the unnecessary loss of parental rights by ensuring that parents and guardians are able to regularly communicate with their children, the child welfare system, and family courts. The legislation would minimize hardship on children and save taxpayers millions of dollars by reducing the likelihood that children will be placed unnecessarily into the foster care system.
“The ramifications of our broken immigration policies are evident every day, and far too often it is our children who suffer the most. Innocent children are needlessly separated from their parents due to their parent’s detention or deportation, and some are unnecessarily ending up in the child welfare system,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “Separation from a parent is detrimental to the life-long physical, social, and mental health of any child. It is imperative that Congress reform our immigration enforcement policies to ensure that we are taking into account the best interest of our children and respecting the fundamental principle of family unity.
“We applaud Senator Franken and Senator Kohl for their leadership in introducing this important piece of legislation which will ensure that our immigration enforcement policies are humane and do not compromise our American values of protecting all children and keeping families together. We are delighted to endorse such a measure, which will ultimately promote the safety and well-being of our nation’s children.”
Specific provisions of the HELP Separated Children Act include:
- Screening of parents and guardians by child welfare agencies and NGOs.
- Timely notification of schools, child welfare agencies, and NGOs regarding enforcement actions.
- Access to free, confidential phone calls for parents and guardians to make care arrangements for their children.
- Collaboration between ICE and child welfare agencies to ensure that parents have regular contact with their children and are able to meaningfully participate in family court proceedings.
- Consideration of the best interest of children in all decisions regarding the detention, release, and transfer of a parent or guardian.
The bill has the support of Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and has been endorsed by over 150 national and state organizations.
Similar legislation, also known as the HELP Separated Children Act (HR 3531), has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).
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Washington D.C. – Today, a coalition of more than 100 professors joined together to voice their strong support for reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), legislation that sets forth federal standards to protect children, youth, and families involved with the juvenile and criminal justice system.
As researchers, teachers, and advocates focused on issues affecting youth, the professors stress the importance of this legislation which supports effective prevention programs and ensures that communities are kept safe. The coalition urges Congress to pass these much needed reforms this summer.
The letter was spearheaded by the First Focus Campaign for Children and is signed by 122 professors representing 61 universities. Signatories represent over 31 states, from California and Nevada to Alabama and Kentucky, as well as New York and Vermont.
“Our nation continues to face significant challenges in the juvenile justice area, including racial disparities in the treatment of youth, an over-reliance on detention and incarceration as a response to juvenile crime, and the continual placement of children at risk of abuse, sexual assault and suicide in adult jails,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan child advocacy organization. “By taking action to pass this legislation, Congress will be able to better protect our nation’s vulnerable youth while keeping our communities safe.”
Specifically, the JJDPA provides for the support of:
- Federal funding for delinquency prevention and improvements in state and local juvenile justice programs and practices;
- Operation of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a federal agency dedicated to providing training and technical assistance, developing model programs, and supporting research and evaluation; and
- A nationwide juvenile justice planning and advisory system spanning all states, territories and the District of Columbia.
The letter reads, “We strongly support this legislation and the reinvigoration of the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention at the Justice Department. We are confident that implementing these best practices and latest research results will benefit both the children and youth who are at risk of entering the juvenile court system, and those who have already entered the system. We also believe it will help make our communities safer and healthier. We urge Congress to make this legislation a priority in the next few months. Our youth deserve nothing less.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will be honored as a Champion for Children at a Children’s Budget Summit hosted by the bi-partisan Campaign for Children.
Senator Lincoln is one of only three Senators recognized at the event with this honor, marking her as one of the top leaders in Congress for federal investments that deliver for America’s children. First Focus cited, in particular, Senator Lincoln’s leadership on child nutrition, children’s health, and the Child Tax Credit – issues particularly important for Arkansas.
“Senator Blanche Lincoln has raised the profile of children’s issues in Congress and served as a true leader on issues like child health and nutrition, child care, and child welfare,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children. We thank Senator Lincoln for her unflagging commitment to making America’s children a top priority of our nation.”
Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, agreed with that assessment. “Senator Lincoln has consistently stood up for children in Arkansas and across the country,” he said.
“Children are our most precious blessings, and throughout my public service I’ve been proud to fight for federal resources and measures to ensure their health, safety, and well being,” Senator Lincoln said. “I am proud to advocate for improved nutrition, access to quality education and health care, and safe and loving homes for our children, and I thank First Focus and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families for sharing this commitment.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) will be honored as a Champion for Children at a summit today hosted by the First Focus Campaign for Children.
“I have always believed that as an elected official it is my responsibility to advocate for those in the dawn of their lives and ensure that the well-being of children and families remains a priority,” said Senator Casey. “With that said, it is both humbling and a great honor to receive the Champion for Children Award from First Focus.”
Senator Casey is one of only three Senators recognized with this honor at the event, marking him as one of the top leaders in Congress for federal investments that deliver for America’s children. First Focus cited, in particular, Senator Casey’s leadership on early childhood, preservation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and other work on behalf of young people – issues particularly important for Pennsylvania.
“Senator Bob Casey has raised the profile of children’s issues in Congress and served as a true leader on issues of importance to our nation’s children,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “We thank Senator Casey for his unflagging commitment to making America’s children a top priority of our nation.”
Joan Benso, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, was in town for the policy summit and agreed with that assessment. “Throughout his career in public service Senator Casey has consistently advanced the needs of children in Pennsylvania and across the country,” she said. “His leadership at the state and federal level has resulted in more children having access to high quality health care and early learning opportunities. Pennsylvania’s children are lucky to have him as their senator.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) will be honored as a Champion for Children at a Children’s Budget Summit hosted by the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus.
Senator Lugar is one of only three Senators recognized at the event with this honor, marking him as one of the top leaders in Congress for federal investments that deliver for America’s children. First Focus cited, in particular, Senator Lugar’s leadership on children’s health and nutrition – issues particularly important for Indiana.
“Senator Richard Lugar has raised the profile of children’s issues in Congress and served as a true leader on issues like child health and nutrition,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus. “We thank Senator Lugar for his unflagging commitment to making America’s children a top priority of our nation.”
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Washington D.C. – Today, the United States Senate approved the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307), a bill that provides an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years to federal child nutrition programs, including school lunch. The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, praised the Senate for passing legislation that will ensure that more low-income children receive access to the meals they need.
Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children, issued the following statement:
“Now more than ever, providing children access to healthy food is critical. Nearly one in four American children are at-risk of hunger, and given current economic conditions, it is likely that many more families will require assistance to feed their children both now and in the years ahead.
“To grow up healthy and concentrate in school, children need access to nutritious foods. The National School Meals Program and other child nutrition programs offer the healthiest and most nourishing meals that many children receive each day. We commend Agriculture Committee Chairman Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AK), and Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) for their leadership in ensuring that more hungry American children will have access to these valuable programs and the nutrition they provide.
“The legislation will also make great strides in preventing and addressing our nation’s childhood obesity epidemic by reducing junk food in schools and improving the nutritional quality of meals. It is unacceptable that one-third of our children and teens are either obese or overweight. Not only does this statistic reflect a serious health concern for our nation’s future, but a national security issue as well. Recent research shows that today 27 percent of 17-24 year-olds weigh too much to enlist in the military.
“Investing early in children’s nutrition provides a lifetime of benefits to our nation’s future. By preventing disease and obesity in children, kids will be able to lead long and productive lives. This is important for their future, provides a cost-benefit to our healthcare system, and lays the health and educational groundwork for our nation’s future workforce and military.”
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