Kids Count Report – Michigan

  • Kids Count Report: Ottawa County first in child well-being, poverty remains a statewide concern, By Erin Dietzer, April 18, 2017, Holland Sentinel: “Ottawa County is number one in child well-being, according to the 2017 Kids Count report. Kids Count, a report by the Michigan League for Public Policy that has been put out for 25 years, evaluates Michigan’s 83 counties based on 15 indicators across four main categories: economic security, health and safety, family and community and education. The 2017 book primarily compares date from 2008 to 2015…”
  • Muskegon County among worst in state for child well-being, study says, By Austin Denean, April 21, 2017, Muskegon Chronicle: “Muskegon County is one of the worst counties in the state when it comes to the overall well-being of its children, according to a study by the Michigan League for Public Policy. Out of the 82 counties in the state included in the study, Muskegon ranked 70th in overall well-being for children in the annual Kids Count Data Book…”

Lead Poisoning in Children – Los Angeles, CA

Lead poisons children in L.A. neighborhoods rich and poor, By Joshua Schneyer, April 21, 2017, Bangor Daily News: “With its century-old Spanish-style homes tucked behind immaculately trimmed hedges, San Marino, California, is among the most coveted spots to live in the Los Angeles area. Its public schools rank top in the state, attracting families affiliated with CalTech, the elite university blocks away. The city’s zoning rules promote a healthy lifestyle, barring fast food chains. Home values in L.A. County census tract 4641, in the heart of San Marino and 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, can rival those in Beverly Hills. The current average listing price: $2.9 million. But the area has another, unsettling distinction, unknown to residents and city leaders until now: More than 17 percent of small children tested here have shown elevated levels of lead in their blood, according to previously undisclosed L.A. County health data…”

Early Childhood Education

How child care enriches mothers, and especially the sons they raise, By Claire Cain Miller, April 20, 2017, New York Times: “As many American parents know, hiring care for young children during the workday is punishingly expensive, costing the typical family about a third of its income. Helping parents pay for that care would be expensive for society, too. Yet recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

Matching ex-offenders with hard-to-fill health care jobs, By Sophie Quinton, April 19, 2017, Stateline: “Collie Thomas sat in the courtyard outside the Johns Hopkins Hospital and marveled at her luck. She works as an orderly in one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country. She was promoted about a year ago. She just moved into a snug new row house. ‘I stayed 10 years in prison, and I worked hard in prison for like a dollar, dollar fifty — for so little,’ said Thomas, 51, her bedazzled pink smartphone glinting in the April sunshine. ‘So when you get these kinds of jobs here, you work your best.’  With unemployment falling and workers hard to find, a growing number of health care employers are following Johns Hopkins’ lead and giving people with criminal records a second chance — hiring them mainly into entry-level jobs in food service, janitorial services and housekeeping. Studies show that employees with records stay in their jobs longer and are no more likely to commit workplace crimes than hires without them…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Advocates worry Medicaid patients may not be aware of changes to system, By Samantha Liss, April 16, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “On May 1, 250,000 additional Medicaid recipients in Missouri will be enrolled in a managed care system, and advocates and health policy experts say they are worried that not enough has been done to make them aware of the changes. Patients could fall through the cracks because of the confusion, say policy experts with the Missouri Foundation for Health…”
  • Wisconsin seeks to drug test some Medicaid enrollees, By David Wahlberg, April 18, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Childless adults who sign up for Wisconsin’s Medicaid program would be screened for drug use and required to pay premiums under a proposal Gov. Scott Walker’s administration plans to submit next month to the federal government. The state Department of Health Services released a summary of the proposal Monday…”
  • Gov. Matt Bevin’s likely Medicaid shake-up scares Kentucky patients, By Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Before he got dental coverage, David Thompson, who works at various construction jobs, said he suffered for years with untreated dental pain and decay. ‘I’d go to work and the pain would be so excruciating that I would literally at lunch go in the parking lot and pull my own teeth,’ said Thompson, 49, who lives in South Louisville. Now, having just gained health coverage through Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Thompson is hurrying to schedule dental and eye exams — care he said he urgently needs but realizes could be eliminated under major changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin…”

State SNAP programs

Republicans hope Trump amenable to food stamp restrictions, By Marina Villeneuve (AP), April 8, 2017, Denver Post: “Maine resident Zak McCutcheon says he likes soda but acknowledges he’d drink less of it if his governor convinced Republican President Donald Trump to put restrictions on the approximately $200 a month he receives in food stamps. He thinks it may even make recipients healthier and less overweight.  ‘If I was more restricted to what I could buy, I would become more of a veggie eater,’ said McCutcheon, who recently perused grapes and packages of pre-chopped vegetables at an Augusta food bank with his pregnant girlfriend.  But another one of Maine’s 180,000 food stamp recipients, Samantha Watson, said she believes a ban from using food stamps on soda and candy won’t make low-income people any healthier. It would take more than that to change eating habits, she said, since food stamps cover only a fraction of the monthly grocery bill for herself and her 3-year-old daughter…”

Intergenerational Poverty

How poverty changes the brain, By Tara García Mathewson, April 19, 2017, The Atlantic: “You saw the pictures in science class—a profile view of the human brain, sectioned by function. The piece at the very front, right behind where a forehead would be if the brain were actually in someone’s head, is the pre-frontal cortex. It handles problem-solving, goal-setting, and task execution. And it works with the limbic system, which is connected and sits closer to the center of the brain. The limbic system processes emotions and triggers emotional responses, in part because of its storage of long-term memory. When a person lives in poverty, a growing body of research suggests the limbic system is constantly sending fear and stress messages to the prefrontal cortex, which overloads its ability to solve problems, set goals, and complete tasks in the most efficient ways…”

Medicaid and Work Requirements

  • Under Trump, states may demand work for Medicaid, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (AP), April 20, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “Work requirements for Medicaid could lead to major changes in the social safety net under President Donald Trump. It sounds like a simple question: Should adults who are able to work be required to do so to get taxpayer provided health insurance? The federal-state Medicaid program for low-income and disabled people covers more than 70 million U.S. residents — about 1 in 5 — including an increasing number of working-age adults. In a break from past federal policy, the Health and Human Services department under Secretary Tom Price has already notified governors it stands ready to approve state waivers for ‘meritorious’ programs that encourage work…”
  • Medicaid may require work, payments from the poor, as Indiana tried, By Jayne O’Donnell, April 18, 2017, USA Today: “Katie Josway is a liberal musician and massage therapist in a conservative state that gave her health care coverage two years ago. She has to make monthly payments and can lose her plan if she misses one. She’s fine with that. There’s a ‘common misperception’ that people who need government assistance are looking for a handout, she says. ‘We are all doing the best we can,’ says Josway, who turns 31 Wednesday. ‘Instilling a little bit of accountability and cutting people a break where needed will lead to a better functioning and happier society.’ Far more people may also have to adjust to the new reality of formerly free health coverage through Medicaid: It will cost money…”

Military Families and Food Insecurity

When active-duty service members struggle to feed their families, By Dorian Merina, April 19, 2017, National Public Radio: “Kara Dethlefsen lined up early on a recent morning for the food pantry at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base near San Diego. She and her husband, both active-duty Marines, took turns holding their 4-month-old daughter. ‘We most like to get the avocados, lemons, some vegetables to cook up,’ says Dethlefsen, 27, who first heard about the pantry from an on-base nurse after giving birth.  ‘This probably saves us anywhere from $100-300 each time we come,’ she says. That’s key for her young family. Her husband is getting ready to transition to civilian life after five years of military service, and they’re not sure what financial challenges that could bring…”

Prisoner Re-entry – Colorado

Homelessness, criminal histories create barriers for those seeking to re-enter Colorado society, By Amelia Arvesen, April 15, 2017, Denver Post: “On paper, Glenn Allan Tefft was sure he qualified for an open position at a Longmont, Colorado, printing plant even with his criminal background. But his spirits were low after he believed he was judged on his appearance during what he thought was a suspiciously brief interview. ‘People won’t even look at you,’ he said a week before the opportunity arose. ‘You can tell I’m homeless.’ Almost 39, a three-time felon who’s been to jail but not prison, Tefft is struggling to defy the odds also faced by 95 percent of the prison population that the Congressional Research Service expects will reintegrate back into the greater community at some point…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

  • Uninsured rate for poor, childless adults declines, By Michael Ollove, April 10, 2017, Stateline: “As the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress explore ways of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, a new study shows how beneficial the law has been to poor adults who don’t have children.  The study by the Urban Institute found that between 2013 and 2015, the rate of poor, childless adults without health insurance fell by 47.1 percent…”
  • Maps show a dramatic rise in health insurance coverage under ACA, By Alyson Hurt, Juan Elosua and Rebecca Hersher, National Public Radio: “New data from the U.S. Census Bureau presents the most detailed picture yet of the dramatic rise in the number of people covered by health insurance since the Affordable Care Act went into effect. County-level data going back to 2010, when the law was signed, shows a patchwork of people living without health insurance that ticked down slowly for the first three years under the ACA. But, once the online insurance exchanges opened at the end of 2013 and Medicaid expanded, the population living without coverage dropped noticeably…”

New York Free College Tuition Program

New York’s free-tuition program will help traditional, but not typical, students, By David W. Chen, April 11, 2017, New York Times: “The program to provide free tuition for students at New York State’s public colleges and universities passed on Friday by the Legislature has been hailed as a breakthrough and a model for other states that will change the lives of students at public colleges across the state. The Excelsior Scholarship, as the program is called, is expected to cut the cost of a degree from a four-year State University of New York college — now almost $83,000 for tuition, fees and room and board — by about $26,000 for an eligible family making $100,000 a year. That is a substantial reduction, but still means paying about $57,000 over four years…”

High School Graduation Exams – Ohio

Will Ohio’s new high-school graduation exams doom poor kids to failure?, By Bill Bush and Catherine Candisky, April 9, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “It sounded like a good idea three years ago when state government leaders instituted new graduation exams to make sure kids were prepared for college or a job. That is, until last fall, when state officials began to look at the sobering number of kids who could be denied a high-school diploma next year when the new requirements are to take effect. Some districts and charter schools could see graduation rates plunge by as much as 70 percent, particularly those serving poor minority students. Some charters might not graduate a single student, according to projections compiled by the Ohio Department of Education in response to a superintendents’ march at the Statehouse…”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Series on Childhood Trauma

From generation to generation, By John Schmid, March 23, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When Joseph and Eva Rogers moved to Milwaukee from Arkansas in 1969, there was no better city for African-American workers to find employment. Neither had made it past grade school, but Joe found a job on the bottle line at Graf Beverages, known for root beer, and Eva worked at a rag factory. They were part of what turned out to be the last chapter of the Great Migration, in which 6 million Southern laborers moved north for a better life, and reshaped the nation.  Their daughter Belinda remembers the city at its industrial zenith. For the first time, she says, ‘I saw African-Americans owning homes and businesses.’ She married at 18 and had three children by age 22. Her Louisiana-born husband worked at A.O. Smith, the biggest employer in the city, with 10,000 workers in cathedral-sized factories welding the undercarriage of just about every American-made car. Then a global economic upheaval hit Milwaukee’s industrial core, and engine-makers, machine shops, tanneries, even heralded breweries shut down in rapid-fire succession…”

Early Childhood Education – Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee Educare helps low-income preschoolers learn by connecting with parents, By Rachel Morello, April 12, 2017, Milwaukee Public Radio: “Close your eyes and picture a preschool classroom. What do you see? Chances are what you envision is probably pretty close to what you’ll find in an Educare classroom.  Educare is an early childhood program that targets children aged 6 weeks to 5 years, who come from low-income families. It’s an offshoot of Head Start, one of the most prominent, publicly-funded early childhood programs in the country…”

Nuisance Policies and Eviction

ACLU sues city over nuisance policy, alleges it punishes domestic violence victims, By Mary Emily O’Hara, April 7, 2017, NBC News: “The ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday against the city of Maplewood, Missouri, over a policy that allegedly evicts domestic violence victims and banishes them from the St. Louis suburb if they call police for help more than twice in six months…”

Homelessness in Wisconsin

GOP lawmakers offer legislation to address homelessness, including key council, By Dean Mosiman, April 12, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Following spending initiatives in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget, Republican state lawmakers are offering a series of bills intended to reduce homelessness in Wisconsin, including a high-powered council that’s at or near the top of a key state advocate’s wishlist.  State Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, on Wednesday will offer a legislative package of four bills that would provide new structure to state efforts to reduce and end homelessness, adjust some current programs and test new approaches…”

Medicaid Expansion – Louisiana

Poll: Louisiana residents largely support Medicaid expansion but find ‘Obamacare’ unfavorable, By Elizabeth Crisp, April 11, 2017, Baton Rouge Advocate: “Nearly three-fourths of Louisiana residents approve of the state’s decision to expand Medicaid, a new poll suggests, even as President Donald Trump, who remains widely popular in the state, continues his quest to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act that made expansion possible.  The 2017 Louisiana Survey’s findings on health care suggest a disconnect in the relationship between Medicaid health care coverage and the ACA…”

Southern Illinoisan Series on Child Welfare

Protecting the Innocent: Southern Illinois combats high rates of child abuse in region, series homepage, April 2017, The Southern Illinoisan: “In many counties throughout Southern Illinois, the child abuse rates are double, triple or nearly quadruple that of the statewide rate. In recognition of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, The Southern will publish a story every day this month to bring further awareness to the problem, and highlight the efforts of those working diligently to combat it throughout the region. The newspaper’s mission is to be an advocate for positive change, and with this series, our goal is to do our part alongside the many others throughout Southern Illinois working to protect our children and strengthen families…”

March 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • U.S. hiring slumped in March as employers added only 98,000 jobs, By Ana Swanson, April 7, 2017, Washington Post: “The momentum in the U.S. labor market flagged in March, new government data showed Friday, with the private sector and the government adding only 98,000 jobs, the lowest gain in nearly a year, as winter storms weighed on economic activity…”
  • Job growth loses steam as U.S. adds 98,000 in March, By Nelson D. Schwartz, April 7, 2017, New York Times: “Job growth turned in a disappointing showing in March, according to data released on Friday by the Labor Department. It is the latest official snapshot of the state of the American economy…”