State Capitol, Olympia
This event is free and lunch is provided.
In this edition, education and child anti-hunger advocates agree that a cut to State Food Assistance is also a hit to education for 12,500 hungry kids in the state at risk of losing their food stamps. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Working Connections Child Care helps one family get through an emergency, and a new mid-level provider can prevent one in four Washington children from going to the emergency room as their first dental visit. In national news, the federal House budget would increase income inequality for children and families, with deep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps.
Just like any other family, those who receive State Food Assistance want their children to grow to be engaged members of society. Just like any other family, they know that starts with the basics: food, health and education. For children to succeed, we need to see to their well-being as well as their education…. Legislators’ difficult budget choices have been described as a matter of what to cut: education or social services? That’s a false choice. A cut in one area undermines investment in another. Nowhere is this clearer than with education and basic support services.
Washington has won a three-year, $25 million federal grant to expand home visits to families with preschool children. The purpose of the visits by nurses and other trained professionals is to give needy families information they will help them give their children a good start in life. The visits may begin when a woman is pregnant. State officials say families who get this help have healthier babies who are less likely to suffer from abuse or neglect.
I was out of work, and we were facing foreclosure. TANF and Working Connections Child Care helped me bridge the gap between ruin and recovery by providing funds for child care, food and basic needs. Although I went into bankruptcy to save our home, my family was able to transition off public assistance shortly afterwards because employment resources were also provided. I worked hard, found a job within seven months, and four years later I am still working.
These cuts are not sustainable. Rather than saving money, they will increase costs in other areas of the state and pass more costs on to local communities. Homelessness among school-age children has increased 19 percent since last year’s safety net reductions went into effect, a number that will continue to rise if further cuts are enacted. Children who are homeless and hungry cannot be successful in school, and school resources are further strained as they struggle to serve these children. In addition to hunger and homelessness, there is another threat faced by children in poverty. Families with lower economic resources are at a significantly higher risk of entering the child welfare system. Already, 3.5 percent of children whose families lost benefits have been placed in relative care or with a guardian. Lowering the grant now will only make this worse.
[Trayvon] Martin's parents are not demanding an eye for an eye, they're asking for a full investigation, a basic principle of our justice system. It's tempting to blame Florida's Stand Your Ground law and the broad leeway it offers to self-defense claims. And don't get me started on the proliferation of weapons that has practically everyone and their Pug packing heat. The shooting deaths of Korean-American college students in California this week is a tragic example of how easy it remains to get a gun. But Martin's death is a powerful reminder of how vulnerable we all are. Who knows how we, or our children, fit into some idiot's stereotype? A change of demographics and he could be any of our sons. And the racial dynamics of America show that more often than not, he will be African American.
The new plan will give students the option to fuel their bodies in a more healthful manner. In the end, the hope would be for their waistlines to decrease and their attention spans in school to increase, and save our children from the pain of diseases associated with childhood obesity. Let's at least give them a choice.
Because individual states handled child-welfare issues for Native-American tribes, including foster care, abused and neglected children were forced to leave their communities and, often, their cultures. That ended when Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978, requiring nearly all Native American children who were taken out of their homes by social-services officials to be placed with relatives or other tribal members. Though the children would remain in state care, a strong focus of the law was keeping Native American families, and tribes, together. But the Port Gamble S'Klallam were determined to do what had never been done before: Gain complete control over the welfare of their own children.
A trip to the emergency room is the first dental visit for one out of four Washington children, according to the Pew study. Either their parents can’t afford dental care, or can’t find a dentist. Add to that the fact that most dentists don’t accept Medicaid, and you’ve got an access crisis that falls disproportionately on poor children and children of color. It doesn’t have to be this way. Mid-level dental providers are trained to focus on preventive and routine care.
As [Paul] Ryan argued in his October speech, the government does have a role in encouraging social mobility: It helps close the gap between the children of the poor and the children of the rich. Food stamps and other food-assistance programs help with nutrition. Public education and Pell grants help with skills. Medicaid — which covers more than 25 million children — helps with access to health care. But Ryan’s proposed cuts would hit these programs with particular force. “Ryan’s plan is a privatization of the prerequisites for opportunity,” says Jacob Hacker, author of “Winner-Take-All Politics.” “And so they become the province of people whose parents have made it.”
It is fitting that House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan's budget and “The Hunger Games” were both released in the same week. Both envision a society in which children must truly fight for their very survival. But it would be difficult for even Hollywood to overdramatize the degree to which children in America today are already at risk. More than 20 percent now live below the poverty line and of the 46 million Americans on food stamps, which the Ryan budget proposes to cut by $134 billion over the next decade, nearly half are children.
The Affordable Care Act helps our nation’s children | The Hill | 03-29-2012
[T]he law has allowed pediatricians to expand our focus on keeping youngsters out of the emergency room and in their homes, schools and at play. Nothing is more troublesome to me as a doctor than seeing a child suffer from an ailment that could have been prevented had he only been in for a well-child check-up. Now, thanks to the law’s investment in preventive care, more children can have the opportunity to take care of adverse health conditions before they become life-threatening. And that’s not all the law’s done for our children.