Children of Incarcerated Parents

  • When parents are in prison, children suffer, By KJ Dell’Antonia, April 26, 2016, New York Times: “Morgan Gliedman’s 3-year-old daughter keeps a few pictures of her visits with her dad taped to the wall by her bed, and the rest in a little pink suitcase along with his letters.  She’s full of ideas for what she’ll do with him when his ‘time out’ is over: camping, baking bread, reading bedtime stories. The earliest that can happen will be when she is in first grade, and he is eligible for parole from his seven-year-minimum prison sentence on criminal weapons charges.  She is just one of the five million American children who have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives. Her father’s sentence is hers, too…”
  • Parents in prison: How to help US children?, By Ben Thompson, April 25, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “A new report, ‘A Shared Sentence,’ shows that millions of children in the United States have lived without one or both of their parents due to incarceration in recent years.  The policy report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation listed a ‘conservative estimate’ that 5.1 million children nationwide, or seven percent, had a parent behind bars at some point in their lives. That figure only includes children whose parents lived with them at some point…”
  • Study: Having jailed parents can have lifelong effect on child’s health, By Kristi L. Nelson, April 25, 2016, Knoxville News Sentinel: “Having a parent in jail can have lifelong effects on a child’s health and ability to succeed, a report released today indicates…”
  • 10 percent of Michigan kids have parents in prison, By Oralandar Brand-Williams, April 25, 2016, Detroit News: “Michigan is among the states with the highest number of children who have a parent behind bars, according to a report released Monday. Some 228,000 children — one out of 10 — have had a parent incarcerated, according to Kids Count in its report ‘A Shared Sentence: The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration of Kids, Families and Communities.’  Michigan ranked fifth in the number of kids affected in 2011-12, the latest figures available. California was first with 503,000, followed by Texas, Florida and Ohio…”
  • Casey Foundation report: Incarceration of parents hurts children and families, By Andrea K. McDaniels, April 25, 2016, Baltimore Sun: “Nearly 6 percent of children in Maryland have a parent in prison or jail, which makes it more likely that they will struggle academically, live in poverty, and have other social or psychological problems that could plague them for life. These are the findings of a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation about the damaging ripple effects of incarceration on families…”

Medicaid Coverage for Ex-Inmates

Feds act to help more ex-inmates get Medicaid, By Jay Hancock, April 29, 2016, National Public Radio: “Administration officials moved Thursday to improve low Medicaid enrollment for emerging prisoners, urging states to start signups before release and expanding eligibility to thousands of former inmates in halfway houses near the end of their sentences.  Health coverage for ex-inmates ‘is critical to our goal of reducing recidivism and promoting the public health,’ said Richard Frank, assistant secretary for planning for the Department of Health and Human Services.  Advocates praised the changes but cautioned that HHS and states are still far from ensuring that most people leaving prisons and jails are put on Medicaid and get access to treatment…”

Concentrated Poverty – Detroit, MI

Detroit has highest concentrated poverty rate among top 25 metro areas, By Niraj Warikoo, April 26, 2016, Detroit Free Press: “Two new reports show that the poor in metro Detroit face unique challenges compared to other parts of the U.S., making it more difficult for them to escape poverty. A study recently released by the Brookings Institution says that metro Detroit has the highest rate of concentrated poverty among the top 25 metro areas in the U.S. by population…”

Suburban Poverty – Ohio

Suburban poverty on the rise in Columbus, By Catherine Candisky, April 27, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “Columbus has had the biggest jump in suburban poverty in the state.  A new report on Ohio’s poor found nearly 12 percent of suburban Columbus residents live in poverty, up from about 7 percent in 2000.  With 144,164 residents with household incomes below the federal poverty rate, or $24,300 a year for a family of four, Columbus has the state’s greatest concentration of suburban poor, according to the annual State of Poverty commissioned by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies…”

Payday Lending

  • 1,000% loans? Millions of borrowers face crushing costs, By Alain Sherter April 25, 2016, CBS News: “Last Christmas Eve, Virginia resident Patricia Mitchell borrowed $800 to help get through the holidays. Within three months, she owed her lender, Allied Cash Advance, $1,800. On the other side of the country, Marvin Ginn, executive director of Native Community Finance, a small lender in Laguna, New Mexico, reports that some customers come to him seeking help refinancing loans from nearby payday lenders that carry annual percentage rates of more than 1,000 percent…”
  • Payday lending: Will anything better replace it?, By Bethany McLean, May 2016, The Atlantic: “Fringe financial services is the label sometimes applied to payday lending and its close cousins, like installment lending and auto-title lending—services that provide quick cash to credit-strapped borrowers. It’s a euphemism, sure, but one that seems to aptly convey the dubiousness of the activity and the location of the customer outside the mainstream of American life.  And yet the fringe has gotten awfully large…”

US Teen Birth Rate

Teen birth rate hits all-time low, led by 50 percent decline among Hispanics and blacks, By Ariana Eunjung Cha, April 28, 2016, Washington Post: “The birth rate among American teenagers, at crisis levels in the 1990s, has fallen to an all-time low, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The decline of the past decade has occurred in all regions in the country and among all races. But the most radical changes have been among Hispanic and black teens, whose birth rates have dropped nearly 50 percent since 2006…”

Food Insecurity – Missouri

Report shows more Missourians experiencing hunger, biggest increase in country, By Michele Munz, April 27, 2016, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The percentage of households experiencing hunger in Missouri has more than doubled in the last decade, the highest increase in the country, according to a report released Wednesday by the University of Missouri…”

Affordable Housing

  • In Baltimore, hopes of turning abandoned properties into affordable homes, By Pam Fessler, April 26, 2016, National Public Radio: “Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods have long struggled with a lack of decent housing and thousands of abandoned homes. Things recently took a turn for the worse: Five vacant houses in the city collapsed in high winds several weeks ago, in one case killing a 69-year-old man who was sitting in his car.  The city needs to do more about decaying properties if it wants to revitalize neighborhoods like those where Freddie Gray grew up, says Marvin Cheatham, president of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association in West Baltimore…”
  • In wealthy pocket of Connecticut, an innovative approach to affordable housing, By Matt A.V. Chaban, April 25, 2016, New York Times: “The offices of Hobbs Inc., a third-generation home builder here, are lined with awards and framed articles for the firm’s decades of work. “2008 Best Residential Remodel Over $3 Million.” “2010 Outstanding Home Over 12,000 Sq. Ft.” “Imus in the Afternoon.” “Living Very Large.” In his wood-paneled office on Thursday, Scott Hobbs was going over what may be his most challenging project yet: the Millport Apartments, a 73-unit affordable housing complex in the center of New Canaan. In addition to being president of the family business, Mr. Hobbs is chairman of the housing authority for this town of 20,000 — a place more often associated with Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Waveny, the 300-acre estate of a founder of Texaco, not to mention custom-built Hobbs homes on half- to four-acre lots…”

SNAP Program – Georgia

Georgia may soon lift ban on food stamps for drug felons, By Ryan Phillips (AP), April 26, 2016, ABC News: “Georgia may soon lift a ban on food stamps for convicted drug offenders after they are released, in an effort to keep them from returning to prison. Gov. Nathan Deal plans to sign legislation Wednesday making the state opt out of a federal lifetime ban on food stamps for those convicted of a drug-related felony. While the federal program calls for stiff restrictions on felons, states are allowed to opt out of the ban. The post-release assistance is supposed help prevent recidivism. The initiative under Deal’s legislative agenda is part of a more comprehensive bill aimed at reforming the state’s criminal justice system…”

Insurance Coverage under the ACA

  • Immigrants, the poor and minorities gain sharply under Affordable Care Act, By Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff, April 17, 2016, New York Times: “The first full year of the Affordable Care Act brought historic increases in coverage for low-wage workers and others who have long been left out of the health care system, a New York Times analysis has found. Immigrants of all backgrounds — including more than a million legal residents who are not citizens — had the sharpest rise in coverage rates.  Hispanics, a coveted group of voters this election year, accounted for nearly a third of the increase in adults with insurance. That was the single largest share of any racial or ethnic group, far greater than their 17 percent share of the population. Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases. Coverage rates jumped for cooks, dishwashers, waiters, as well as for hairdressers and cashiers. Minorities, who disproportionately worked in low-wage jobs, had large gains…”
  • Obamacare seems to be reducing people’s medical debt, By Margot Sanger-Katz, April 20, 2016, New York Times: “Even if you lack health insurance, you’ll probably be able to get treatment at a hospital in the event of a catastrophe — if you’re struck by a car, say. But having insurance can mean the difference between financial security and financial ruin. A new study is showing that, by giving health insurance to low-income people, Obamacare seems to have cut down on their debt substantially. It estimates that medical debt held by people newly covered by Medicaid since 2014 has been reduced by about $600 to $1,000 each year…”
  • Obamacare expanding coverage for the poor, study finds, By Karen Pallarito, April 20, 2016, Philadelphia Inquirer: “State Medicaid expansions under Obamacare have improved low-income Americans’ insurance coverage, increased their doctor visits and enhanced detection of chronic health conditions, which could lead to improvements in health, a new study suggests. The findings are important as policymakers continue to debate the value of expanding Medicaid, the publicly funded health insurance program for the poor, researchers said…”

Medicaid Expansion – Arkansas

Arkansas GOP governor uses veto to save Medicaid program, By Andrew Demillo (AP), April 21, 2016, Washington Post: “Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday effectively saved Arkansas’ first-in-the-nation hybrid Medicaid expansion by voiding part of a budget bill that would have ended the subsidized insurance for more than 250,000 poor people. The Republican governor vetoed a provision in the Medicaid budget that ordered a Dec. 31 end to the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor…”

Poor Quality Housing and School Readiness

Bad housing—not just due to lead poisoning– tied to lower kindergarten test scores, By Rachel Dissell and Brie Zeltner, April 21, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Cleveland kids who live in– or even near– poor quality housing are more likely to perform worse on kindergarten readiness tests, according to a recent studyby Case Western University’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. Lead poisoning, as in many other studies, was a major contributor to the poor test performance. About 40 percent of the more than 13,000 Cleveland Metropolitan school district children included in the study had records of a high blood lead level before arriving in kindergarten. But it’s not lead poisoning alone that’s hurting these kids. Children in the study with no record of lead poisoning who lived in or near bad housing scored lower on the kindergarten tests than their peers who lived in better housing…”

SNAP Work Requirements – Wisconsin

41K lost food stamps, 12K found jobs under new work requirement, By Molly Beck, April 21, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “More than 41,000 people lost access to food stamps within the first year of a new state law that requires some FoodShare recipients to seek employment, while nearly 12,000 people found jobs through a new job training program for recipients, state data show. A report released by the Department of Health Services on Wednesday shows 11,971 participants of the FoodShare Employment and Training program reported finding employment. Meanwhile, 41,149 able-bodied adults without children lost FoodShare benefits after the state said they failed to seek employment…”

Child Welfare System – Oregon

  • Foster care crisis: Oregon failing in every area possible in federal review, By Denis C. Theriault, April 20, 2016, The Oregonian: “A new federal study finds Oregon’s child welfare system is failing across the board when it comes to keeping thousands of children in state care safe and healthy.  According to the report, caseworkers are still taking too long to check on allegations of abuse and neglect, with just more than half of investigations completed on time. Even in the most serious cases, where check-ins are required within 24 hours, the state met that goal less than two-thirds of the time…”
  • Report: Ore. DHS fails all federal child care standards, By Gordon Friedman, April 21, 2016, Statesman Journal: “State officials knew eight years ago of deficiencies in their child welfare programs and failed to address any of the significant issues, according to a report sent to federal assessors last month. The 2008 review found the Oregon Department of Human Services below standard in 11 of 13 federal child care assessment categories…”

Former Foster Youth and Homelessness

Many Oklahomans, once in foster care, age out and are now homeless, By Sidney Lee, April 18, 2016, Norman Transcript: “Foster children who have ‘aged out’ of the foster care system are one of the underserved populations in Oklahoma when it comes to housing, according to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. The lack of affordable housing in much of Oklahoma especially affects this population group and others who would have difficulties with affordable and appropriate housing even without a shortage…”

Multidimensional Poverty

Poverty, compounded, By Gillian B. White, April 16, 2016, The Atlantic: “It’s true that poverty affects people of all races, genders, and nationalities, but it’s also true that poverty—especially deep, persistent, intergenerational poverty—plagues some groups more than others. That’s because poverty isn’t just a matter of making too little money to pay the bills or living in a bad neighborhood—it’s about a series of circumstances and challenges that build upon each other, making it difficult to create stability and build wealth…”

Payday Lending

  • Payday loan users can also get hit by bank fees, watchdog finds, By Becky Yerak, April 20, 2016, Chicago Tribune: “High interest rates might not be the only problem for borrowers who take out payday loans online, a consumer watchdog says.  Borrowers who don’t keep enough cash in their checking accounts to pay off those short-term loans can also get hit with repeated overdraft or insufficient-funds fees from their banks, according to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…”
  • Bank fees are a hidden cost of payday loans, By Stacy Cowley, April 20, 2016, New York Times: “Payday loans are well-known for their high interest rates and fees, but for many borrowers, they have a second, less obvious cost: the bank fees incurred when automatic loan repayments fall short.  Bank overdraft and insufficient-fund fees often add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a loan, according to a study released Wednesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is preparing to propose new rules for the payday loan industry.  The agency said it analyzed 18 months of transaction data from nearly 20,000 accounts showing payments to Internet-based payday lenders…”

School Funding

Why America’s schools have a money problem, April 18, 2016, National Public Radio: “Let’s begin with a choice. Say there’s a check in the mail. It’s meant to help you run your household. You can use it to keep the lights on, the water running and food on the table. Would you rather that check be for $9,794 or $28,639?  It’s not a trick question. It’s the story of America’s schools in two numbers. That $9,794 is how much money the Chicago Ridge School District in Illinois spent per child in 2013 (the number has been adjusted by Education Week to account for regional cost differences). It’s well below that year’s national average of $11,841…”

Income, Geography and Life Expectancy

  • Life expectancy study: It’s not just what you make, it’s where you live, By Jim Zarroli, April 11, 2016, National Public Radio: “Poor people who reside in expensive, well-educated cities such as San Francisco tend to live longer than low-income people in less affluent places, according to a study of more than a billion Social Security and tax records. The study, published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, bolsters what was already well known — the poor tend to have shorter lifespans than those with more money. But it also says that among low-income people, big disparities exist in life expectancy from place to place, said Raj Chetty, professor of economics at Stanford University…”
  • Why the poor die young, By Derek Thompson, April 12, 2016, The Atlantic: “‘Geography is destiny.’ Economists once used this theory to try to explain the difference between rich and poor countries. But in the last few years, something like it has become a grand theory for rich and poor within the United States. Researchers have shown that where a family lives dramatically shapes children’s education, income, and their potential to earn more than their parents.  Geography’s most consequential legacy might be life itself. In a new study released Monday morning and reported in The New York Times, the life expectancy of the poorest Americans can differ by many years in neighborhoods that are fewer than 100 miles apart…”
  • The rich live longer everywhere. For the poor, geography matters, By Neil Irwin and Quoctrung Bui, April 11, 2016, New York Times: “For poor Americans, the place they call home can be a matter of life or death. The poor in some cities — big ones like New York and Los Angeles, and also quite a few smaller ones like Birmingham, Ala. — live nearly as long as their middle-class neighbors or have seen rising life expectancy in the 21st century. But in some other parts of the country, adults with the lowest incomes die on average as young as people in much poorer nations like Rwanda, and their life spans are getting shorter. In those differences, documented in sweeping new research, lies an optimistic message: The right mix of steps to improve habits and public health could help people live longer, regardless of how much money they make…”
  • Where living poor means dying young, By Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham, April 11, 2016, Washington Post: “This city is full of parks that invite exercise and bike lanes that make commuting a workout. It’s home to social services that tend the poor, and taxpayers who willingly fund them. Smoking is banned at restaurants and bars — as well as in workplaces, at bus stops, throughout public housing, at charity bingo games and even inside stores that sell tobacco. These factors may help explain why the poor live longer in the San Francisco area than they do in much of the rest of the country…”
  • A new divide in American death, By Joel Achenbach, Dan Keating, April 10, 2016, Washington Post: “White women have been dying prematurely at higher rates since the turn of this century, passing away in their 30s, 40s and 50s in a slow-motion crisis driven by decaying health in small-town America, according to an analysis of national health and mortality statistics by The Washington Post.  Among African Americans, Hispanics and even the oldest white Americans, death rates have continued to fall. But for white women in what should be the prime of their lives, death rates have spiked upward. In one of the hardest-hit groups — rural white women in their late 40s — the death rate has risen by 30 percent…”

Environmental Hazards and Poor Minority Communities

  • Low-income, minority areas seen as lead poisoning hot spots, By Matt Rocheleau, April 11, 2016, Boston Globe: “Thousands of Massachusetts children are found to have potentially harmful levels of lead in their blood each year, with cases tending to be concentrated in communities with more low-income and minority residents, state officials say.  The Central Massachusetts town of Warren had the highest rate of lead poisoning, with excessive levels found in 7.1 percent of children tested. The next highest rate was 6.7 percent in the neighboring town of Ware…”
  • Threat of environmental injustice extends beyond Flint water crisis, By Ted Roelofs, April 15, 2016, MLive.com: “About a year ago Grand Rapids resident Myichelle Mays, 25, picked up her young son, De’Mari, now 4, from a sitter, and immediately knew something was wrong. De’Mari, who had been diagnosed with asthma just before his first birthday, ‘was gasping for air,’ she recalled. ‘He couldn’t breathe. You could hold him and hear the wheezing. I freaked out.’ Mays rushed the boy to the hospital, the latest of five or six trips to the emergency room since he was infant. Now it is a fear she lives with each day. ‘It’s stressful, not knowing what is going to happen.’  It was a frightening episode, but one familiar to thousands of low-income minority families in Michigan. And it might be one more reason to view Flint’s water crisis as merely the latest chapter in a long narrative in which impoverished residents of color are more likely to bear the brunt of environmental hazards…”