It’s the worst we’ve seen.
That’s our assessment of new cuts to state services. The across-the-board budget reductions are more severe than anything we’ve experienced recently. They’re also being made in an extremely challenging context.
The budget that was finalized this spring, during the last legislative session, did not anticipate the persistently slow economy. And, rather than our elected representatives deliberating in public over cuts, these decisions are being made by the Governor in consultation with agency secretaries and assistant secretaries. They are decisions as momentous as any made during the last legislative session, only without legislators convening to hear and represent their constituents’ concerns.
The federal government has finally released the guidelines states need to apply for their slice of $1.5 billion in new grant funding for home visiting programs, which connect new and expectant parents with trained nursing and early learning professionals.
The new guidelines issued late last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow Washington to apply for up to $1.3 million this year.
The first wave of these grants, part of federal health care reform that became law in March, will go to states this summer.
Over the next few weeks and months, we and our allies on the Washington Home Visiting Coalition will be working with state agencies and stakeholders on a plan for how Washington will use these home visiting funds.
President Obama and Congress have both identified early learning as an important area of investment. The Washington State legislature should do the same and pass and fund the Early Start Act.
Our youngest kids deserve early learning opportunities that spark their curiosity, nurture their potential, and build their resilience. Consensus is growing: these opportunities lay a foundation for a strong future.
But far too many children don't get the early start they need. High quality early learning opportunities are often unaffordable or unavailable to the children who need them.
Children’s oral health matters for their whole bodies, and for the rest of their lives. Because oral health is vital to overall health, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required insurance plans to take a whole-child approach and include pediatric dental and vision benefits into every health insurance plan sold.
That’s why we’re working hard to make House Bill 2467 into state law.
On Friday, February 7, President Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill which had been approved by the House and the Senate earlier in the month. The Children’s Alliance consistently opposed passage of this bill because of the harm it will cause to more than 232,000 Washington families – or 33 percent of all families using the Basic Food program. These families already had their food benefits cut in November when everyone – more than 1.1 million Washingtonians – depending on food assistance lost $25-45 in benefits.
From Port Angeles to Pasco, from Walla Walla to Westport, too many of our most vulnerable neighbors are not getting the dental care they need.
When kids have untreated cavities, they spend their time in school dealing with their pain, not paying attention to their teacher. When adults have toothaches and infections, they miss work. For adults who have lost teeth to decay, it can be nearly impossible to find a decent job. Seniors often suffer silently, while oral health problems worsen and make them sick. In many of our communities, our emergency rooms are left to provide expensive, stop-gap care that treats the symptoms, and not the cause of the problem.
Last year, the state took great strides forward in providing insurance for more than 700,000 people in need.
Seventy-one community based organizations from across the state have joined together to call for full restoration of State Food Assistance for our children, elders, and families. They distributed this letter to state legislators on Friday, Feb. 7. It’s reproduced below, or available here in PDF form.
Dear Esteemed Washington State Legislators and Governor Inslee,
We are coming together once again from all around Washington State, from diverse communities, to call on you to restore State Food Assistance to equal benefit levels with Basic Food.
All children deserve healthy food so they can thrive. But the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have reached agreement on a farm bill that makes harmful cuts to Basic Food, our state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.
These cuts would harm Washington’s kids. That’s why the Children’s Alliance has asked the White House to veto the Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill cut would come on top of the Nov. 1 cut in federal stimulus funding, and after a 2012 reduction in State Food Assistance. We’re working hard to restore equal benefits for ALL Washington families by working in Olympia to bring State Food Assistance benefits up to par with Basic Food.
Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. And as a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight.
A year ago, President Obama released the outlines of a bold new initiative to put quality pre-kindergarten within reach of every child in America. On Tuesday night, the President reiterated his request, emphasizing the promise of early learning.
We look forward to the celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, 50 years after the start of the War on Poverty that he helped to launch. One key strategy in the War on Poverty has been a commitment to the health and well-being of America’s children, through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).
This session, Children’s Alliance members are asking state legislators to fulfill a key part of the American promise – basic help in hard times – by bringing State Food Assistance up to parity with federal SNAP benefits.