State Capitol, Olympia
This event is free and lunch is provided.
In this edition, Children’s Alliance, Governor Gregoire, legislative leaders and health advocates celebrate a $17.6 million bonus from the Obama administration rewarding the popular and successful Apple Health for Kids program for covering more kids efficiently. In other news, the state budget tops the news in 2010, Rep. Larry Seaquist continues to develop his proposal closing tax breaks for revenue and a national study finds that pediatricians are oversaturated in wealthy regions yet missing in poor and rural areas.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced early this week that Washington is one of 15 states to receive a Children’s Health Performance Bonus. These funds recognize the efforts of states that are conducting outstanding work to enroll eligible children into health coverage.
This is the second year in a row that Washington has received this recognition; in 2009, our state was awarded a bonus of $7.9 million. Over these two years, Apple Health for Kids has brought our state $25.5 million in new, flexible federal funding. These bonus payments have been authorized by Congress through 2013.
In this edition, Jerry Large of The Seattle Times calls upon local communities to act for the common good in the worst of times, the Children’s Alliance and Northwest Harvest break down what the proposed State Food Assistance elimination will look like for more than 30,000 families, the Washington Policy & Budget Center releases supplemental budget news and Rep. Larry Seaquist proposes closing tax exemptions to recompense some of the critical education funds proposed for elimination. In other news, a policy analyst published in The Huffington Post sees the tender first five years of life as the major influence on future outcomes, Paola Maranan, the Children’s Alliance Executive Director, talks of the revenue side of the budget equation in a Seattle Voices interview, and Children’s Alliance Deputy Director Jon Gould is featured in the New York Times reflecting on the loss of the soda tax.
In this edition, the Children’s Alliance stood strong for children last week in Olympia, fighting for a balanced approach to the budget, children’s health, state food assistance and early learning, but Wednesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed unprecedented eliminations and cuts in her two-year-budget, while local social service advocates spoke on the very real consequences of these cuts on Washington’s most vulnerable communities.
Gov. Chris Gregoire’s two-year budget proposal, released yesterday, paints a picture of a different state than the one we live in today. Among the worst impacts found in the fine print are those to programs that help Washington’s children.
Last Thursday the House of Representatives reauthorized federal child nutrition programs by passing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Like most good legislation, this bill has a lot of strengths and a few weaknesses.
The Act makes it easier to enroll low-income kids in free or low-cost school meals. It allows the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restrict junk food in schools. And it offers financial support to innovative programs like Farm to School. These are huge victories for kids.
In this edition, Cecily Jenkins, who uses Working Connections child care assistance to balance the demands of family and work, shares how the program cuts affect all aspects of her life in a KIRO TV News report. In other news, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act awaits President Obama’s signature, and a First Focus report reveals challenges and opportunities for our state during the Great Recession.
As Children’s Alliance gears up for legislative session, one thing is clear: we are all going to have to step up our advocacy for kids this year. This week, people in Washington will have the opportunity to testify in front of the House Ways and Means Committee to make just that case.
When we do, we should keep in mind First Focus’ report released last week announcing that the Great Recession has doubled the number of kids with unemployed parents. As a result, more than one in 10 children in the United States are living with an unemployed parent. In Washington, that means the parents of more than 156,000 children don’t have jobs.
So it doesn’t make sense to us that one area being targeted in these tough times is Working Connections Child Care, a program that keeps parents working during a period of persistently high unemployment.
In this edition, Northwest Asian Weekly publishes a commentary by Children’s Alliance Executive Director Paola Maranan urging people to take a stand for programs that sustain Washington’s most vulnerable families through the recession. Also, children experience poverty at higher-than-expected levels this holiday season, a program that helps young mothers embrace their new roles is facing cutbacks, and food advocates discuss how to best feed hungry children in America.
The worst recession of our lifetimes has taken its toll not only on our families and our communities, but on the government’s ability to lend a hand.
Legislators will soon return to the state capital to decide the fate of critical programs. We’ll be there, too.