Voices for Kids Blog

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Nine Million Reasons to Extend CHIP Funding Now

| September 20, 2017 |

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published on Medium.

In the midst of the chaos that is Washington, D.C., Congress is gambling with the health and well-being of nearly 9 million children, as funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is set to expire on September 30th.

It is not like congressional leadership didn’t know this was coming. Two years ago, over 1,500 groups urged Congress to extend CHIP for through 2019, but in its infinite wisdom, House leadership chose to only extend CHIP for two years and set the date for funding to expire just days from now. In other words, this September 30th deadline was self-imposed, and yet, both the House and Senate are on a path to fail to extend CHIP funding in a timely manner. (In sharp contrast, can you imagine, a scenario where Congress would allow funding for the entire Medicare program to expire in this manner?).  Read More


West Virginia Event Highlights Need to Put Kids First in Federal Budget

| September 19, 2017 |

A Huntington woman reads to a group of children as part of the KidsFest theme “Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, and Healthy Futures.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published at the Children’s Budget Coalition website.

What does it look like to make children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions? KidsFest 2017, an annual community event led by the United Way of the River Cities in Huntington, West Virginia, is a great example.

This year, KidsFest was held on September 17 at Ritter Park in Huntington, West Virginia. The festivities welcomed local children and their families to enjoy an afternoon of fun, centered around the theme of “Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, and Healthy Futures.” A wide range of service providers were available to educate children and parents on issues like substance abuse, nutrition, early learning, safety, and more. Children’s Health Fund, a member of the Children’s Budget Coalition, made an especially exciting appearance at this event, bringing their West Virginia Children’s Health Project mobile medical clinic—directed by Dr. Isabel Pino—to raise the importance of consistent access to pediatric care. The Herald Dispatch, the local newspaper, took notice of Dr. Pino’s efforts, featuring her in their front page article about the event.  Read More


Millions of Kids are Food Insecure, But Nutrition Programs Can Help

| September 13, 2017 |

No child should have to worry about whether his or her family will be able to afford to put food on the table. But this was the reality for the 13 million U.S. children who, according to new data the USDA released last week, experienced food insecurity during 2016. For those children, uncertain access to enough healthy food has serious consequences for health, learning, and development.

The fact that 16 percent of US households with children lacked the resources for healthy, consistent meals during 2016 underscores the vital importance of food assistance programs in fighting child hunger. According to the most recent data, children represent nearly half of the participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides low-income households with a monthly benefit for food purchases. In fact, research suggests that participation in SNAP for six months is associated with an 8.5 percentage point decrease in food insecurity in households with children. However, the families that access SNAP benefits often exhaust them by the end of the month, suggesting that current levels are inadequate.

  Read More


With 13 Million US Kids in Poverty, We Can Do Better

| September 12, 2017 |

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual data on children living in poverty in the U.S. and it confirms three things that we know to be true:

  1. Child poverty in the U.S. remains high.
  2. Children continue to disproportionately experience poverty in the U.S.
  3. The child poverty rate would be much higher without effective anti-poverty programs.

The data shows that 18 percent of children -13.3 million – were living in poverty in 2016 (the official poverty line for a family of four with two children is $24, 339). The good news that 1.3 million less children were living in poverty in 2016 – but U.S. child poverty rate still remains stubbornly high, and children continue to disproportionately experience poverty in the U.S. The reality is that kids make up 23 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 33 percent of the population living in poverty.  Read More


Hurricanes and Medicaid Caps ‘Do Not Mix’

| September 11, 2017 |

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published on Medium.

Why the Current Sen. Graham Should Heed the Warnings of a Former Sen. Graham

Sens. Lindsey Graham (SC) and Bill Cassidy (LA) are working on a new legislative proposal to eliminate Obamacare by converting it into a block grant to states, while simultaneously imposing a per capita cap on the Medicaid program, which the Senate previously rejected.

According to Vox’s Sarah Kliff, “. . .Senate Republicans rejected four different Obamacare repeal plans. . . Now just one remains — and, in many ways, it’s the most radical one yet.”

Kliff outlines a number of problems with the approach in her piece, but the two of most concern to the nation’s most vulnerable families are the legislation’s proposals to impose a per capita cap on Medicaid for children, people with disabilities, and senior citizens (along with an option for states to convert that to a block grant), and a full-blown conversion of Medicaid coverage for low-income adults and Obamacare tax credits into block grants to states.  Read More


Trump Administration Ends DACA, Creating Uncertainty for Hundreds of Thousands of Children and Families

| September 8, 2017 |

Earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced that it would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which has been in place since August of 2012.

DACA has been a beacon of hope to many young undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children. The program’s recipients represent some of the country’s most innovative, giving and talented individuals our nation has to offer.

The Trump Administration’s decision to phase out the DACA program is sending waves of frustration, fear, anxiety and outrage amongst families and children affected. According to the Department of Homeland Security, only those individuals who have pending applications with USCIS before September 5, 2017 will be processed, and those whose permit expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 may apply for a renewal by October 5, 2017. This means that countless individuals whose DACA permit expires after next March have no viable options for legal status unless Congress legislatively creates a pathway for them.  Read More

 

Increasing the Minimum Wage is Good for Child Well-Being

| August 31, 2017 |

A new study from researchers at Indiana University finds that raising the minimum wage by $1 per hour would lead to a substantial decrease (9.6 percent) in the number of reported cases of child neglect.

This study confirms what we already know to be true – money matters for child development and well-being. Increased income helps families cover basic expenses such as rent, utilities, nutritious food and diapers, as well as educational resources that support a child’s academic achievement.

A recent review of rigorous studies examining the link between family income and child outcomes found overwhelmingly strong evidence that increased household income results in positive child development, including higher educational attainment.  Read More


Charlottesville: Our Children Are Listening

| August 30, 2017 |

Twitter’s most shared post in its history is this one by former President Barack Obama in the aftermath of Charlottesville.

Obama began the post with the quote from Nelson Mandela, which in its entirety reads:

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

The quote by Mandela is perfect, but what also struck a cord in people across the world is Obama’s choice of his accompanying picture is that of him with children of different races. People inherently understand that children are not born with hate and malice toward others. In fact, they are born with a profound sense of fairness.  Read More


The Fate of CHIP: 17 Legislative Days Till CHIP Funding Expires

| August 30, 2017 |

After a busy spring and summer on Capitol Hill, the halls of Congress are quiet this week. But that will change very quickly when Members return on September 5th. Pundits of every stripe have been attempting to predict Congress’s legislative priorities for the fall session. Those of us in the child advocacy community are laser-focused on the fate of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a critical health insurance program for almost 9 million children in low-income children in working families. CHIP is on a short-list of must-pass legislation pending before Congress this fall. Federal funding for CHIP runs out on September 30th. [Read: Key Facts About CHIP]

CHIP is a popular and well-respected program with a long history of bipartisan support at the community, state and national levels. People most often know CHIP by its state-specific name, such as PeachCare in Georgia, BadgerCare Plus in Wisconsin or SoonerCare in Oklahoma. It is operated through the states, but funded through a joint federal-state partnership. CHIP provides kids with well-child care, hospitalization coverage, mental health, dental care and other necessary benefits. This provides a certain peace of mind to families who lack an offer of job-based insurance for their kids, don’t qualify for Medicaid, or aren’t able to afford private coverage on their own.  Read More


Trump Administration Rescinds Program for Children Seeking Safety

| August 17, 2017 |

Credit: Kate Gardiner / Flickr

Credit: Kate Gardiner / Flickr

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ended the Central American Minors (CAM) Parole Program. The Federal Register notice stated that DHS, “will no longer provide special consideration of parole for certain individuals denied refugee status in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras under the CAM Parole Program.”

This special parole consideration was given on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security for urgent humanitarian reasons. It has served as a safety net for thousands of children who were denied refugee status under the CAM Refugee Program.

In 2014 the U.S. Government recognized that children were fleeing their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala to escape gang violence, gang recruitment and horrific violent crimes against women and young girls. This program was created in response to the surge in these migrant children and helped to create a legal pathway for those who qualified.  Read More