Pages tagged "Press Release"
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…)
Statement: First Focus Campaign for Children Applauds Bipartisan, Bicameral Agreement on Opioid Legislation
Washington, D.C., September 27, 2018—First Focus Campaign for Children is delighted to see bipartisan agreement on tackling the opioid addiction epidemic and helping those affected by it. In June, the House passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act by a vote of 396-14. On September 17th, the Senate passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 by a vote of 99-1.
“It is crucial that families and foster youth affected by this devastating crisis get the help they need to overcome opioid addiction and put their lives back on track,” said Bruce Lesley, First Focus president. “We are particularly heartened that this bipartisan bill offers substantive help and hope both sides of the aisle will make children a priority going forward.”
The opioid crisis affects foster children and youth in two ways: First, children enter the child welfare and foster system often as a result of substance abuse by their parents, and secondly, foster youth who age out of care are at an increased risk of substance use disorders. We therefore commend Congress for including numerous provisions in the bipartisan, bicameral opioid package that will improve the lives of foster children and youth impacted by the opioid crisis, including:
- Continuous Health Insurance for former foster youth: This provision, which corrects a glitch in existing law, allows foster youth who have aged out of care to remain on Medicaid through age 26, regardless of whether they relocate to other states. This provision recognizes the critical importance of health coverage for former foster youth as they transition into adulthood. Earlier this month, First Focus, the State Policy and Advocacy Reform Center, and FosterClub held a congressional briefing on the importance of Medicaid to foster children and youth.
- Family-Focused Residential Treatment: This provision promotes family-based residential treatment for substance use disorders by requiring the HHS Secretary to issue guidance to states on how they can support such treatment facilities.
- Recovery and Reunifying Families: This provision promotes the replication of effective recovery coach programs to improve outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system who are impacted by substance use disorders.
- Family-Focused Residential Treatment: This provision creates a grant program to promote family-based residential treatment programs, which are critical to helping parents and families get the treatment they need to overcome addiction.
- Plans of Safe Care: This provision provides grants to states to improve and coordinate their response to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of infants affected by substance use.
- Trauma-Informed Care: This provision gives the Center for Disease Control (CDC) authority to work with states to collect and report data on adverse childhood experiences. It also directs the CDC to form a task force to promote best practices in treating children impacted by trauma and to recommend best practices to federal agencies regarding its coordination and response to substance use disorders and other forms of trauma that affect children and families.
- At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection: This legislation would ensure that incarcerated youth are simply suspended, rather than terminated, from Medicaid while they are incarcerated. It would require states to automatically restore full eligibility to youth upon release from incarceration, and to take any steps necessary to make sure that youth begin receiving medical assistance benefits immediately.
The Fiscal Year 2019 annual spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (H.R. 6157) includes $3.8 billion for combatting the opioid crisis, and the bill should be signed into law soon. Adequate federal funding for these new programs benefitting our foster children is critical. Looking ahead to Fiscal Year 2020, though, these gains for our children could be jeopardized if Congress fails to lift the budget cap for non-defense discretionary spending established by the 2011 Budget Control Act. If budget caps are allowed, this type of spending will go down by $55 billion. Congress must prioritize children in our federal budget decisions.
Statement: Advocates Applaud Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Help Most Vulnerable Homeless Children and Youth
- Simona Combi, Media Relations Director, [email protected]
- Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, Schoolhouse Connection, [email protected]
- Eric Masten, Director of Public Policy, National Network for Youth: [email protected]
- Cara Bradshaw, Chief Impact Officer, Family Promise: [email protected]
- Chris Kaul, Director of Communications, Family Promise: [email protected]
Bill Can Remove Barriers to Federal Homeless Assistance
Washington, D.C., July 24, 2018—First Focus Campaign for Children, Schoolhouse Connection, National Network for Youth and Family Promise celebrate today’s bipartisan passage of the Homeless Children and Youth Act (H.R. 1511) in the House Financial Services Committee.
We applaud Congressman Steve Stivers (D-OH-15) and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2) for their leadership in introducing this common-sense legislation, which would remove barriers to federal homeless assistance for many of our nation’s most vulnerable homeless children and youth.
Groundbreaking research released by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago in the Voices of Youth Count initiative last fall shows that 4.2 million young people experienced homelessness in America over a 12-month period. Nearly three-quarters of the young people who experienced “literal homelessness” (sleeping on the streets, in a car, or in a shelter) also said they had stayed with others while experiencing homelessness. Over half said they did not feel safe. Additionally, this research showed that young people experience homelessness at similar rates in rural and urban communities.
Nearly 1.3 million homeless students were identified by the U.S. Department of Education in the most recent school year, with an increasing number of homeless youth living on their own. Most of these children and youth are invisible in their communities and are forced to stay in rundown motels or on other people’s couches or floors. These hidden homeless situations are often unsafe, putting children and youth at high risk of trafficking, violence, and neglect.
The Homeless Children and Youth Act recognizes the lived reality for these families and youth and would allow providers to flexibly use federal homeless assistance to assess and serve the most vulnerable homeless children and youth in their community. It would also allow communities to provide help tailored to the unique needs of each homeless population in their community, including housing and service models most appropriate and effective for youth and families.
In addition to our groups, over 50 national organizations and hundreds of state and local organizations who work closest with homeless families and youth support this legislation. The Homeless Children and Youth Act also has strong bipartisan support in the Senate – S. 611 is led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH).
Today’s vote was a big step towards ensuring that today’s homeless children and youth don’t become tomorrow’s homeless adults. We urge Congress to act quickly to pass this critical legislation.
“First Focus Campaign for Children applauds Congressman Steve Stivers and other lawmakers who put politics aside today and together took action to support some of our nation’s most vulnerable homeless children and youth. The Homeless Children and Youth Act will allow communities to use available resources more effectively to address the unique developmental needs of homeless children and youth. We look forward to continuing to work with Members of Congress on final passage of this important legislation.” – Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus Campaign for Children
“We applaud the House Financial Services Committee for recognizing what homelessness actually looks like for youth and for families, the harm it causes, and the perilous path it creates to adult homelessness. The passage of the Homeless Children and Youth Act will align HUD homeless assistance with the efforts of other federal agencies, and allow communities to fund programs that meet the complex needs of children, youth, and families. In doing so, it will ensure the most effective use of resources. We urge its swift passage.” – Barbara Duffield, Executive Director, Schoolhouse Connection
"NN4Y applauds the Financial Services Committee for moving HCYA forward in a bipartisan manner. This important policy reform will ensure that local communities can provide the interventions that are most needed in their community, and that work best for young people and families experiencing homelessness, such as those served by our members. HCYA will improve access for our most vulnerable, and help local communities to better coordinate in identifying, assessing and serving all person experiencing any form of homelessness." – Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth (NN4Y)
“HCYA will have a direct impact on children and their families in all 43 states in which we have programs. We believe not only will it help our most vulnerable children escape the trauma of homelessness, it will also give those local communities greater discretion in finding the most effective solutions to their most serious problems. Thank you to the committee for supporting a common sense, compassionate, and effective bill to help children and youth. – Claas Ehlers, CEO, Family Promise
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)
# # #
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.
On June 28, 2018, the Senate voted on and passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 in an 86-to-11 vote. This bill avoids the House Bill’s many harmful changes that would result in households with children receiving reduced SNAP benefits, if not losing them entirely. It also fully rejects the Administration’s harmful and expensive proposal to fundamentally change the nature of the program by shifting a portion of a family’s benefits to a system of “Harvest Boxes.”
The following statement comes from Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children:
“We applaud the 86 senators who voted to pass the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 on Thursday evening. By approving this bill, these Senators came together in a bipartisan fashion to protect access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a critically important support that helps low-income families keep food on the table.
SNAP is an important lifeline for millions of Americans who struggle to make ends meet, especially for the 19 million children who rely on the program to access the food they need to grow, learn, and develop. Fortunately, the Senate farm bill is a clear repudiation of efforts in the House of Representatives to undermine access to food assistance for hundreds of thousands of families with children.
We hope that as lawmakers from the House and Senate go to conference, they will work together to produce legislation that mirrors the Senate bill. It is imperative that we remain vigilant during these proceedings—no changes to the bill should take away this vital lifeline for America's families instead, any modifications should strengthen and protect SNAP’s ability to fight hunger and poverty amongst America’s children."
For more analysis comparing the Senate bill and the House bill, see our blog post.
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.
The Campaign for Children presses for policy changes to improve the well-being and protect the rights of the next generation of America’s leaders. Our advocacy is focused in the areas of child health, education, early childhood, family economics, child welfare, immigration, and child safety, in addition to tax and budget policies that lift children out of poverty. In all our advocacy, we seek to increase the federal investment in programs that support and protect our nation’s most precious resource, our children.
On Tuesday, Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California granted a preliminary injunction that orders an end to the policy of family separations. It also mandated that families be reunited within 30 days, with children under 5 reunited with their families in 14 days, and allow all parents to speak with their children via phone within 10 days.
The following statement comes from Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children:
We applaud the decision in MS. L V. ICE to reunite families separated by the administration. While this is a win for children, we urge the government to seek a transparent, effective process to carry out this order and bring a swift end to inhumane policies that have neither moral nor economic standing.
There is more work to be done. Family detention is still not a solution to family separation—it inflicts long-term, intergenerational trauma that amounts to abuse.
Enforcing our nation’s borders should never involve inflicting trauma and terror on children and families fleeing violence and terror.
As we expect a response from the executive branch, First Focus Campaign for Children will continue to monitor this situation as it develops.
This afternoon, the House of Representatives voted to pass its Farm Bill, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2.). The following statement comes from Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children:
“With this vote, 213 Representatives voted for a partisan bill that will make it harder for low-income families to put food of the table. This legislation takes the unprecedented step of seizing food assistance from adults who can’t meet burdensome new work requirements even if they have school-aged children. As a result, hundreds of thousands of households with children would see their annual SNAP benefit reduced by an average of $2,000. As if that isn’t bad enough, eligibility changes would force 265,000 children to lose their direct certification for school meals. Not only will this legislation make kids hungrier at home, but at school as well. Even though 80 national child advocacy organizations joined together to clearly oppose this measure, kids came last in this farm bill vote."
In contrast, the Senate Farm Bill—S.3042—is a bipartisan piece of legislation that recognizes the critical importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for hard-working families, preserving access and eligibility to the program. First Focus Campaign for Children strongly supports the Senate bill as an alternative to the House measure, and we urge them to continue their bipartisan, good-faith agreement. We also thank the 211 Representatives who voted no on H.R. 2, and urge them to keep fighting for the low-income children and families who depend on SNAP every day.
Today and tomorrow, as America is focused on the plight of migrant children separated from their parents, the U.S. House of Representatives presents two immigration bills that likely face defeat. Neither bill is a solution for youth and families under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or prevents children from being traumatically detained. Both bills eliminate protections for people seeking asylum, including unaccompanied children.
The following statement comes from Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children:
Today was supposed to be a day for Congress to address DACA, but has been hijacked to push an anti-immigration agenda that seeks to harm children in order to ensure its objectives are met. Both bills neglect the majority of DREAMers. Immigration policies should keep families together--and out of detention. Policies that separate families are detrimental to children and amount to abuse. Therefore, we reject the policies in these bills.
Chairman Goodlatte's bill, rejected by a 193 to 231 vote today, would end family migration, militarize the border, terrorizing families that live in border communities, give no long-term stability to DACA recipients, and, in fact, continue to threaten them with deportation and detention.
Speaker Ryan's bill would authorize family detention--in spite of research that consistently shows that family detention causes intergenerational, long-term trauma. It also would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deport children seeking asylum to extremely dangerous situations, militarize the border, and neglect to provide a clear pathway for DREAMers.
First Focus Campaign for Children opposes both of these bills. Neither provide long-term solutions for youth who were brought here as children. They deserve permanent legal status. For these young people, the United States is home, and the termination of DACA by President Trump has put their futures at risk.
Today’s executive order comes in response to mass condemnation for the Trump administration’s harsh policy of separating children from their parents at the Southern border.
While the order reverses the administration’s decision to separate families, it does nothing to address the actual crisis on the border. Instead the administration exchanges a bad policy for another bad policy, family detention. Today’s order continues the prosecution and detainment of migrant families escaping extreme violence in the Northern Triangle.
Detention has been proven to be costly and ineffective in deterring migration. Focusing on enforcement is a misguided approach that puts children in harm’s way and ignores the need to address the root causes of the violence in the countries that these families are fleeing.
First Focus Campaign for Children opposed family detention under the Obama administration and will continue to oppose this cruel practice that causes additional trauma to children and families.