Paid Family Leave – Washington

Paid family and medical leave fast tracked through Legislature, By Jim Camden, July 3, 2017, Spokesman-Review: “Late Friday night, with great emotion but relatively little fanfare, the Legislature moved Washington into the forefront among states that provide financial help to parents after childbirth or when a family member is seriously ill or dying. In strong bipartisan votes, the House and Senate moved quickly to approve a state-regulated program for paid family and medical leave…”

Rural Health Care

  • Deaths from cancer higher in rural America, CDC finds, By Lena H. Sun, July 6, 2017, Washington Post: “Despite decreases in cancer death rates nationwide, a new report shows they are higher in rural America than in urban areas of the United States. The report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that rural areas had higher rates of new cases as well as of deaths from cancers related to tobacco use, such as lung and laryngeal cancers, and those that can be prevented by screening, such as colorectal and cervical cancers…”
  • Kids in pro-Trump rural areas have a lot to lose if GOP rolls back Medicaid, By Noam Levey, July 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Communities like this aging West Virginia coal town along the Kanawha River were key to President Trump’s victory last year; more than two-thirds of voters in surrounding Fayette County backed the Republican nominee. Now, families in this rural county and hundreds like it that supported Trump face the loss of a critical safety net for children as congressional Republicans move to cut hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade from Medicaid, the half-century-old government health plan for the poor…”

Poverty Rate – Alabama

Alabama is 6th poorest state in nation; poverty rate at 40 percent in some counties, By Anna Claire Vollers, July 3, 2017, AL.com: “Alabama is the sixth poorest state in the United States, according to a new report by an Alabama nonprofit. About 18.5 percent of Alabamians live below the federal poverty line, but the percentage varies widely by county. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Black Belt counties have the highest rates of poverty while metro areas have the lowest…”

Foster Care and the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis is straining the nation’s foster-care systems, By Perry Stein and Lindsey Bever, July 1, 2017, Washington Post: “Deb McLaughlin’s 3-year-old grandson climbed all over her, pleading to play trucks, restless as always. Her 1-year-old foster daughter, who had just woken from a midday nap, sat in her lap, wearing a frilly dress and an irresistible smile. At least McLaughlin doesn’t have to worry about the daily shots of methadone anymore, at least these babies no longer scream and shake for the opioids to which they were born addicted. This isn’t what McLaughlin envisioned for her empty nest years in rural Maine, trading camping and four-wheeling trips for social-worker check-ins, meetings with behavioral therapists and supervised visits with the drug-addicted biological parents who had to give up these children. McLaughlin’s daughter, who once dreamed of being a lawyer, is one of the millions of Americans addicted to opioids and one of thousands of parents whom state governments have deemed unfit to care for their own children…”

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Grandfamilies 1: Grappling with the cost of addiction, By Ella Nilsen, July 1, 2017, Concord Monitor: “In Helene Lorden’s living room, a big, inviting armchair is parked in front of the television. But the 58-year-old grandmother of five rarely gets to sit down and put her feet up. Like thousands of other grandparents in the state, Lorden has custody of her five grandchildren – ages 10 to 18. She has been raising them for over a decade…”

Medicaid Cuts and State Programs

  • From birth to death, Medicaid affects the lives of millions, By Alison Kodjak, June 27, 2017, National Public Radio: “Medicaid is the government health care program for the poor.  That’s the shorthand explanation. But Medicaid is so much more than that — which is why it has become the focal point of the battle in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. President Barack Obama expanded Medicaid under his signature health care law to cover 11 million more people, bringing the total number of people covered up to 69 million…”
  • For people who depend on Medicaid, proposed federal caps in health care plans instill fear, By Guy Boulton, June 24, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Aaron Christensen was born with a condition so rare that fewer than 100 people have been diagnosed and reported with it worldwide. The boy, now 6, has Nicolaides-Baraitser syndrome, which is characterized by intellectual disability, distinctive facial and other physical features, and often seizures. When he was born, ‘everything kind of changed,’ said his mother, Sara Christensen. ‘We still don’t know what the future looks like.’ Aaron could depend on Medicaid to pay for all or most of his health care his entire life, through a special program. And that’s why they’re extremely anxious about congressional Republicans’ plans to cap what the federal government spends on Medicaid in future years…”
  • The who, what and how much of Mississippi Medicaid, By Sarah Fowler, June 28, 2017, Clarion-Ledger: “Each morning, Samantha Manning rushes to get her family ready for the day. Her eldest, 13-year-old Kennedy, is involved in a number of sports. Combine that with twin 8-year-old boys, and each day is different. Kennedy is a type 1 diabetic and goes to a small school that doesn’t have a nurse on staff. Because of the teen’s diabetes, the school’s policy demands one parent is present at all of her games…”
  • Veterans helped by Obamacare worry about Republican repeal efforts, By Stephanie O’Neill, June 28, 2017, National Public Radio: “Air Force veteran Billy Ramos, from Simi Valley, Calif., is 53 and gets health insurance for himself and for his family from Medicaid — the government insurance program for lower-income people. He says he counts on the coverage, especially because of his physically demanding work as a self-employed contractor in the heating and air conditioning business…”

Lifeline Program

This low-cost phone and Internet program wastes millions in federal funding, auditors say, By Brian Fung, June 29, 2017, Washington Post: “A federal program designed to help millions of low-income Americans afford phone and Internet service is riddled with fraud and abuse, with at least $137 million a year going to ineligible, fake or dead people, according to government auditors. The explosive report Thursday from the Government Accountability Office shows that despite efforts to rein in abuse of the sprawling Lifeline program, which serves 12.3 million subscribers on Medicaid, food stamps or other benefits, many recipients of the $9.25-a-month credit are violating program rules…”

US Teen Birth Rate

Birth rate among teenage girls reaches historic low, CDC says, By Shannon Gilchrist, June 30, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “The birth rate among American teenage girls has dropped to a historic low, according to government statistics released Friday. Births to American teens ages 15 to 19 fell 9 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The birth rate in 2016 — 20.3 babies per 1,000 females — marks a decrease of 51 percent from 2007 and 67 percent from 1991…”

Climate Change and Economic Inequality

Climate change in the U.S. could help the rich and hurt the poor, By Brady Dennis, June 29, 2017, Washington Post: “Researchers have long warned that unmitigated climate change could cause severe financial hardship to the United States in coming decades. But a new study published Thursday in the journal Science details how global warming could disproportionately affect poor areas of the country, contributing to widening economic inequality among Americans…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – Kansas

Kansas teens can face bumpy road as they ‘age out’ of foster care system, By Megan Hart, June 27, 2017, High Plains Public Radio: “Aubri Thompson has already had her share of challenges by age 21: She left the foster care system without a designated caregiver, lived without a steady home for more than a year and became a single parent before finishing college. Thompson lived in the Kansas foster care system from age 14, when she was reported as a runaway, until she ‘aged out’ at 18. During that time, she moved 21 times, staying in foster homes, group homes and mental health treatment facilities…”

State and Local Minimum Wages

  • The minimum wage is going up in D.C., two states. How California’s compares, By Nick Perez, June 28, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “On July 1, the minimum wage will increase in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. – but California will still have fourth-highest minimum wage in the country. The District of Columbia pays minimum wage workers the most – $12.50 per hour, as of July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states increased their minimum wages at the beginning of 2017…”
  • A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals, By Max Ehrenfreund, June 26, 2017, Washington Post: “When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect. The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found…”

Summer Meal Programs – Minnesota

Summer Eats app helps Minnesota kids take bite out of hunger, By Shannon Prather, June 28, 2017, Star Tribune: “For kids who rely on free and reduced-price school lunches, summer break can be a hungry time. But there are nearly 700 sites across the state serving free, healthy meals to kids this summer — no reservations required — and a new smartphone app called Summer Eats Minnesota is making it easier for children and teens to find them. One additional perk of the app: It lists the menu at many locales…”

Child Welfare System – Michigan

Problems continue for Michigan’s child welfare database, By Justin A. Hinkley, Lansing State Journal: “The state’s troubled child welfare database lacked the necessary controls ‘to ensure that all cases are actively managed and all children and families receive necessary services,’ auditors reported Tuesday.  As of March 1, auditors had found 208 cases without a worker assigned to them. Those cases, a fraction of nearly 70,000 in the system, were hangovers from the state’s previous software database and should have been closed out, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services said in its preliminary response contained in Tuesday’s report…”

Medicaid Cuts and State Programs

  • Republicans’ proposed Medicaid cuts would hit rural patients hard, By Bram Sable-Smith, June 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher. Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most hospitals, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding…”
  • G.O.P. health plan is really a rollback of Medicaid, By Margot Sanger-Katz, June 20, 2017, New York Times: “Tucked inside the Republican bill to replace Obamacare is a plan to impose a radical diet on a 52-year-old program that insures nearly one in five Americans. The bill, of course, would modify changes to the health system brought by the Affordable Care Act. But it would also permanently restructure Medicaid, which covers tens of millions of poor or disabled Americans, including millions who are living in nursing homes with conditions like Alzheimer’s or the aftereffects of a stroke…”
  • Republicans’ Medicaid rollback collides with opioid epidemic, By Ricardo Alonzo-Zaldivar (AP), June 20, 2017, ABC News: “The Republican campaign to roll back Barack Obama’s health care law is colliding with America’s opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties…”
  • How states like Kansas punish the poor for being both too poor and not poor enough, By Max Ehrenfreund, June 19, 2017, Washington Post: “Obamacare was designed to make it easier for poor Americans to buy insurance. In many states, though, the law has left a hole where less needy households can receive benefits, while millions of Americans living in poverty cannot. They are, in effect, too poor to get help…”
  • In expanding Medicaid, Utah wants to make some enrollees work and cap their lifetime coverage, By Alex Stuckey, June 20, 2017, Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah health officials are proposing lifetime limits and work requirements for childless adults who would gain coverage under a Medicaid expansion plan, hoping the changes will help persuade the federal government to approve it…”
  • With Medicaid under the gun, new study highlights program’s successes in Cheshire County, By Ethan DeWitt, June 23, 2017, Keene Sentinel: “Amid fierce national clashes over the future of health care, and a new Republican bill unveiled Thursday, one federal program has proven a particular emotional flash point: Medicaid. Efforts to pare back the program, which provides coverage to low-income adults and children, have drawn alarm from Democrats and some Republican senators representing rural states…”

Achievement Gap

  • Where poor students are top of the class, By Lauren Camera, June 20, 2017, US News: “Children in schools dotting the districts along the Rio Grande River in Texas are overwhelmingly poor and Hispanic, and many of them are still learning English – all indicators associated with low academic achievement. But in a handful of cities there, students are bucking that assumption by performing just as well, and in some cases better, than their wealthier peers…”
  • Is California’s investment in needy students paying off? Few signs indicate achievement gap is closing, By Jessica Calefati, June 22, 2017, KQED: “California’s new system for funding public education has pumped tens of billions of extra dollars into struggling schools, but there’s little evidence yet that the investment is helping the most disadvantaged students. A CALmatters analysis of the biggest districts with the greatest clusters of needy children found limited success with the policy’s goal: to close the achievement gap between these students and their more privileged peers. Instead, results in most of those places show the gap is growing…”

Affordable Housing – Buffalo, NY

The other side of Buffalo’s rental boom? Not enough low-income apartments, By Susan Schulman, June 19, 2017, Buffalo News: “When a nonprofit housing agency recently built a low-income apartment complex on Jefferson Avenue, the 30 apartments were rented – sight unseen – before the building was completed. ‘They were rented up before I could show an apartment, before there was a certificate of occupancy,’ said Michael Riegel, president of Belmont Shelter, the city’s premier low-income housing assistance agency. That was the first time in his 30 years in the nonprofit housing business that he’s experienced such a demand, Riegel said…”

Minimum Wage – Seattle, WA

Latest study: Seattle’s wage law lifted restaurant pay without shrinking jobs, By Janet I. Tu, June 20, 2017, Seattle Times: “Seattle’s minimum-wage law has led to higher pay for restaurant workers without affecting the overall number of jobs in the industry, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley. Indeed, employment in food service from 2015 to 2016 was not affected, ‘even among the limited-service restaurants, many of them franchisees, for whom the policy was most binding,’ according to the study, led by Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich…”

Income-Based Water Bills – Philadelphia, PA

For low-income residents, Philadelphia unveiling income-based water bills, By Tricia L. Nadolny, June 19, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Philadelphia Water Department next month will launch a low-income assistance program that offers payments starting at $12 per month and is open even to those who haven’t fallen behind on their bills. For those who have, that debt would be frozen indefinitely…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Federal budget cutters take aim at food stamps, By Jessica Wehrman, June 18, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “President Donald Trump’s budget would slash the federal food-assistance program by 25 percent, saddling states such as Ohio with the cost of feeding the hungriest among them. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, dates to 1964 — pilot programs existed before then — and, to hear advocates tell it, has been one of the nation’s most effective anti-hunger programs…”

2017 Kids Count Data Book

  • Kentucky children make ‘undeniable’ health care gains, but advocates fear setback, By Deborah Yetter, June 13, 2017, Louisville Courier-Journal: “As a young mom, Savannah Wallace of Louisville knows the value of health care coverage for her baby boy. ‘It’s peace of mind,’ she said, holding 4-month-old William on her lap during a recent visit to the Family Health Center Iroquois clinic for a checkup. ‘You don’t have to worry where the money’s going to come from. He gets the health care he needs…'”
  • Tennessee moves to 35th for kids’ health and happiness, By Jason Gonzales, June 12, 2017, The Tennessean: “Tennessee’s push to increase the number of students who attend college has helped increase the state’s standing on a national report that looks at the well-being of children…”
  • 2017 Kids Count report on Nevada is a mixed bag, By Amber Corbin, June 13, 2017, Las Vegas Sun: “The economic conditions of Nevada households with children continue to improve following the Great Recession, but the overall well-being of kids still lags far below the national average, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Southwestern states rank among lowest in child well-being, By Susan Montoya Bryan (AP), June 13, 2017, US News: “Three Southwestern states are ranked near the bottom when it comes to child well-being, with New Mexico the lowest among its neighbors. The annual Kids Count report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks New Mexico 49th, ahead of only Mississippi. Louisiana, Nevada and Arizona fill in the rest of the five lowest rankings…”
  • Florida child poverty rate doesn’t budge, By Liz Freeman, June 13, 2017, Naples Daily News: “Florida children are not escaping poverty or making significant strides in school, two findings for why the state ranks 40th in overall child well-being for the second year in a row, according to a national report…”
  • D.C. has one of the highest rates of children with health insurance, report says, By Michael Alison Chandler, June 13, 2017, Washington Post: “The District has one of the highest rates of health-insured children, with 98 percent covered, according to the latest Kids Count annual survey released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Georgia children’s health factors improving but among U.S.’ lowest, By Ariel Hart, June 14, 2017, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Georgia’s children rank among the nation’s least healthy, according to an annual report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In only seven other states does a greater portion of the children lack health insurance. In only five other states are more babies born underweight. Georgia also ranked worse than the national average in several other categories related to children’s health and well-being, including deaths of minors…”
  • Report puts NC in the bottom half of the U.S. for child well-being, By Beth Walton, June 13, 2017, Asheville Citizen-Times: “A national group put North Carolina in the bottom half of U.S. states for child well-being, something local advocates say needs to change. The annual Kids Count Data book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains — health, education, economic well-being, and family and community…”