US Food and Nutrition Programs

Some Obama allies fear school lunch bill could rob food stamp program, By Robert Pear, September 23, 2010, New York Times: “In her campaign to reduce childhood obesity and improve school nutrition, Michelle Obama has become entangled in a fight with White House allies, including liberal Democrats and advocates for the poor. At issue is how to pay for additional spending on the school lunch program and other child nutrition projects eagerly sought by the White House. A bill that the House is expected to consider within days would come up with some of the money by cutting future food stamp benefits. When the Senate passed the bill in early August, Mrs. Obama said she was thrilled. But anti-hunger groups were not. They deluged House members on Thursday with phone calls and e-mails expressing alarm…”

Homeless Students – Oregon

Number of homeless students in Oregon continues to increase, By Anne Williams, September 23, 2010, Register-Guard: “Oregon public schools continued to see swelling numbers of homeless students in 2009-10, a testament to the reach and tenacity of a stubborn recession. More than three in every 100 students – 19,040 – met the federal definition of homelessness last year, an increase of 5.5 percent over 2008-09, according to a state report released Wednesday. The uptick surprised no one on the front lines of providing services to homeless families. ‘We see how the recession has hit,’ said Janet Beckman, the liaison to homeless families in the Springfield School District, which counted 482 homeless students last year, up from 464 the year before. ‘We know that we’re seeing families we’ve never seen before, that have never been in this type of situation before. There’s been a shift in the type of people who are needing assistance.’ But the increase between the two years wasn’t as large as the previous year’s 14 percent…”

Child Care Subsidy Program and Fraud

  • States are vulnerable to child care fraud, By Raquel Rutledge, September 23, 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Government workers across the country are rubber-stamping taxpayer funding for phantom child care arrangements, according to a new report by the federal Government Accountability Office. In an undercover sting operation conducted in recent months, GAO agents were able to receive subsidy payments using fake Social Security numbers, bogus jobs and phony addresses in four of the five states that were spot-checked. All five states were vulnerable to fraud, the report found. ‘Some states didn’t even call our fake employers,’ said Greg Kutz, managing director of forensic audits and special investigations with the GAO. The GAO conducted its sting in Illinois, Michigan, New York, Texas and Washington. The states were selected based in part on the amount of the $2 billion federal stimulus money they received last year…”
  • Texas denies it lacks safeguards against child care fraud, By Robert T. Garrett, September 24, 2010, Dallas Morning News: “Texas has few safeguards to catch scam artists posing as struggling parents to get government child care money, congressional investigators have found. Millions of dollars are at risk, according to the investigators, who said that Texas needs to do a better job of verifying applicants’ identities and employment. The Government Accountability Office, the watchdog arm of Congress, said undercover federal employees managed to get fictitious parents and children admitted to the subsidized child care program in Harris and Fort Bend counties, using the Social Security numbers of dead people. And it said Texas doesn’t adequately verify parents’ employment, check the backgrounds of relative caregivers and flag suspicious applications for further review…”

Health Care Reform and Children’s Coverage

  • For many, health care relief begins today, By Kevin Sack, September 22, 2010, New York Times: “Sometimes lost in the partisan clamor about the new health care law is the profound relief it is expected to bring to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been stricken first by disease and then by a Darwinian insurance system. On Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a number of its most central consumer protections take effect, just in time for the midterm elections. Starting now, insurance companies will no longer be permitted to exclude children because of pre-existing health conditions, which the White House said could enable 72,000 uninsured to gain coverage. Insurers also will be prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on benefits…”
  • Some insurers to halt new child-only policies, By N. C. Aizenman, September 21, 2010, Washington Post: “Some of the country’s most prominent health insurance companies have decided to stop offering new child-only plans, rather than comply with rules in the new health-care law that will require such plans to start accepting children with preexisting medical conditions after Sept. 23. The companies will continue to cover children who already have child-only policies. They will also accept children with preexisting conditions in new family policies. Nonetheless, supporters of the new health-care law complain that the change amounts to an end run around one of the most prized consumer protections…”
  • New healthcare law kicks in today, By Todd Ackerman, September 23, 2010, Houston Chronicle: “Tens of thousands of Texas children will be directly affected by the 11th-hour decision of a number of major health insurance companies to stop selling child-only policies rather than comply with the new federal law that requires they cover youngsters with pre-existing conditions. All insurance companies starting today will accept children in family plans regardless of medical history, but Texas insurers United Healthcare, Aetna Inc. and Cigna Inc. are among the ones that will no longer offer policies just for individuals under 19. Such plans have grown in popularity in recent years as employee-based policies have cut coverage of dependents…”

Number of Children in Foster Care – Pennsylvania

  • Fewer kids in foster care in Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, By Jill King Greenwood, September 21, 2010, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “A report to be released today finds Pennsylvania is making ‘significant progress’ in safely reducing the number of children living in foster care. That number fell almost 12 percent between this year and last, according to the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group in Harrisburg. ‘Pennsylvania’s child welfare system serves some of the most vulnerable children and families in our communities. It is critically important that we continue to monitor the performance of this essential safety net,’ said Joan L. Benso, president of the partnership. The report compared data collected between April 1, 2009, and March 31 with the previous year, and drew from all 67 counties in the state. The declines are being achieved without endangering children’s safety, the report said, because repeat cases of child abuse did not measurably increase and re-entry into foster care declined…”
  • Fostering good care results, By Peter Hall, September 24, 2010, Bucks County Courier Times: “The number of Bucks County children in foster care declined, while the number of children who left foster homes for permanent homes increased last year, according to a report released Tuesday by a child welfare advocacy group. In Montgomery County, the number of children in foster care dropped only slightly and the number of children who found permanent homes stayed level. But indicators of child welfare performance in both Bucks and Montgomery in those and many other areas examined in the report were better than the average for other urban counties or Pennsylvania as a whole…”