Housing Subsidies – Baltimore, MD

Housing program used to break up high-poverty areas in Baltimore to stop taking applicants, By Yvonne Wenger, January 12, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “The officials who run a court-ordered program that helps families move from Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods to areas with low crime and high-performing schools are planning to stop taking new applicants.  Hundreds of people sign up each month for the rental subsidies and counseling, which are offered as a condition of a landmark federal fair-housing lawsuit in Baltimore…”

Child Care Subsidies – Maryland

Wealthy Maryland is poor in child-care subsidies, By Josh Hicks, December 22, 2016, Washington Post: “A group of Maryland lawmakers is pushing Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and the General Assembly to increase financial assistance for families struggling to cover child-care costs, noting that the state ranks among the least generous in the nation for such aid.  Advocates say state and federal funding levels for child-care subsidies are too low, forcing Maryland to restrict how many low-income families qualify for vouchers and greatly limiting which day-care centers those families can afford.  Adding to the financial pressure are new federal regulations that say states must subsidize child care at rates that allow parents to enroll their children in higher-priced programs, rather than only the cheapest…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • New Mexico seeks copays from Medicaid patients, By Morgan Lee (AP), October 26, 2016, News Tribune: “New Mexico is pursuing federal authority to charge medical co-payments and some other costs to patients enrolled in Medicaid health care for the poor and disabled, the state Human Services Department secretary told lawmakers on Wednesday.  Secretary Brent Earnest said ‘nominal’ co-payments and other charges would provide a small economic incentive to steer patients away from wasteful expenses, such as the use of emergency room services for routine care…”
  • Medicaid expansion credited for getting record number of kids insurance in Ohio, By Catherine Candisky, October 27, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “More than 95 percent of Ohio children have health coverage as the uninsured rate fell to historic lows in the wake of Obamacare.  A new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families credits Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act for the decline in uninsured children…”
  • In Maryland, diabetics cost Medicaid twice as much, study finds, By Andrea K. McDaniels and Meredith Cohn, October 27, 2016, Baltimore Sun: “People with diabetes cost the state’s Medicaid program twice as much as those without the chronic condition, a study commissioned by the society that represents Maryland’s doctors has found…”

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…”

Lead Poisoning in Children

  • Lead paint: Despite progress, hundreds of Maryland children still poisoned, By Timothy B. Wheeler and Luke Broadwater, December 5, 2015, Baltimore Sun: “There’s a huge hole in the kitchen ceiling of the rowhouse Olivia Griffin rents in West Baltimore. Rain leaks in through the roof, the lights in a bedroom don’t work, and standing water fills one end of the basement.  The 27-year-old mother’s biggest worry, though, is the flaking, peeling paint inside and out — and the dangerously high level of lead in the blood of her 1-year-old daughter, Lyric. Two of her other three children have lower but still potentially harmful levels in their blood as well.  Lead poisoning, once epidemic among Baltimore’s poor, is much less common than it used to be, with the number of new city cases dropping by 86 percent since 2002. But it is still claiming young victims years after authorities vowed to eradicate it. At least 4,900 Maryland children have been poisoned by lead in the past decade, their brains exposed to a contaminant that causes lasting learning and behavioral problems. There are likely more victims, because not all children are tested…”
  • In Flint and beyond, lead remains irreversible scourge among Michigan’s children, By Mike Wilkinson, December 13, 2015, MLive.com: “Across Michigan, in cities large and small, lead poisoning continues to plague children, limiting them in school and on the playground.  Although much of the state’s focus has been on lead-poisoned water in Flint, the metal continues to turn up annually in the bodies of thousands of children across the state, at percentages well above the numbers that raised red flags in Flint…”

Teenage Pregnancy – Baltimore, MD

Teen pregnancies in Baltimore drop by a third, By Meredith Cohn and Andrea K. McDaniels, February 24, 2015, Baltimore Sun: “Baltimore’s teen pregnancy rate dropped by nearly a third from 2009 to 2013, far surpassing the city’s goal for reducing the rate, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to announce today.  While public health officials cheered the reduction, the city’s rate remains twice as high as the state’s and significantly higher than the national average, which experienced a similar drop, according to government statistics. It’s a particular problem in black and Hispanic communities…”

Minimum Wage – Maryland

Maryland businesses among many grappling with a higher minimum wage, By J.D. Harrison, January 5, 2015, Washington Post: “Maryland’s minimum wage was one of many that increased at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, in the first of a series of raises that will eventually push the state’s pay floor above $10 an hour. Under legislation approved last summer, Maryland’s minimum hourly rate increased from $7.25 to $8.00 on the first of the year, and it will increase again to $8.25 in July. The minimum will tick up several more times over the next three years, reaching $10.10 in 2018…”

State Minimum Wages – Maryland, Minnesota

  • Maryland lawmakers approve higher minimum wage, By Erin Cox and Michael Dresser, April 7, 2014, Baltimore Sun: “Maryland’s minimum wage will rise to $10.10 by July 2018 under a bill granted final passage by state lawmakers Monday. The measure goes to Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley for his promised signature. Raising the wage above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour was O’Malley’s top legislative goal during the final session of his eight years as governor, and in a statement he commended lawmakers ‘for giving so many Maryland families the raise they deserve.’ Maryland became the second state this year pass a hike to $10.10, the mark set by Democrats across the country seeking to address income inequality. Connecticut approved that increase in March…”
  • Minnesota’s minimum wage is going to $9.50 an hour by 2016, By Patrick Condon, April 7, 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Minnesota’s minimum wage is set to jump from one of the lowest in the nation to one of the highest, promising a better standard of living for more than 350,000 workers but raising bottom-line concerns for some business owners. Democrats who run the Legislature said Monday that by the end of the week the House and Senate will pass a proposal that’s been one of their party’s top legislative priorities this year. Once it becomes law, the minimum wage for businesses with more than half a million dollars in annual gross sales will rise in three successive steps, starting this August, from the current $6.15 an hour to $9.50 by 2016…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • NC proposes experimental health networks for Medicaid patients, By Lynn Bonner, February 26, 2014, News and Observer: “State officials rolled out a plan Wednesday for changes in the state Medicaid program that are a huge step away from the managed-care proposal Gov. Pat McCrory and top state Department of Health and Human Services officials pitched last year. The new proposal avoids a fight with doctors, hospitals and other health care providers over the future of the $13 billion government health insurance program that covers about 1.7 million poor children and their parents, elderly people and disabled people…”
  • Gov. Gary Herbert offers ‘Utah solution’ to Medicaid expansion, By Lisa Riley Roche, February 27, 2014, Deseret News: “Gov. Gary Herbert offered his own ‘Utah solution’ to Medicaid expansion Thursday, calling for a new state-run program that would be paid for through a block grant from the federal government. Herbert’s ‘Healthy Utah’ plan would seek a block grant from the federal government to cover about the same number of needy Utahns as accepting the full expansion of Medicaid offered under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But instead of receiving Medicaid, the estimated 111,000 Utahns earning less than $15,500 a year would each pay about $420 a year toward private insurance and medical expenses…”
  • Medicaid recipients may stay in system even if they don’t qualify, By Meredith Cohn, February 27, 2014, Baltimore Sun: “Maryland must spend as much as $30.5 million more to provide Medicaid coverage to Marylanders because the state’s glitch-riddled health exchange website can’t tell whether they are still eligible. It’s another problem exacerbated by the software that has been causing headaches since the exchange website launched on Oct. 1 for those trying to get into the expanded Medicaid program or buy private insurance with subsidies…”

Child Are Subsidies – Maryland

Md. child care subsidy program underfunded, By Tricia Bishop, July 15, 2013, Baltimore Sun: “Maryland’s Child Care Subsidy program, which gives poor families vouchers for care so parents can work or go to school, is so underfunded that it hasn’t met federal rate guidelines in a decade and still uses income eligibility criteria from 2001. The deficit prevents thousands of families from participating and relegates many of those who do to the least expensive care available — often the lowest caliber in terms of facilities, educational offerings and staff training…”

2012 Kids Count Data Book – Southern States

  • Report says 1 in 4 Kentucky children and 1 in 5 Hoosier kids are mired in child poverty, By Jessie Halladay, July 25, 2012, Louisville Courier-Journal: “One in four Kentucky children lives in poverty, and their numbers have increased starkly since 2005, according to the latest Kids Count report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Mirroring a national trend, the number of the state’s children living below the poverty line – defined in 2010 as $22,113 for a family of two adults and two children – rose 18 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to the annual report, which provides an annual snapshot of child well-being. In Indiana, one in five children lives in poverty, a 29 percent increase between 2005 and 2010…”
  • Maryland ranks 10th in child well-being, national study says, By Yvonne Wenger, July 25, 2012, Baltimore Sun: “Fewer Maryland children are living in high-poverty neighborhoods than a decade ago, but the lingering economic slump has left more parents without a steady paycheck, the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported Wednesday. The Baltimore-based charity ranks Maryland 10th in the nation for overall child well-being in its 2012 Kids Count Data Book, which analyzed nationwide research and statistics on children’s economic well-being, education, health, family and community…”
  • Study: More SC kids living in poverty, By Gina Smith, July 26, 2012, The State: “South Carolina ranks near the bottom – 43rd among the 50 states – in a ranking of children’s well being. That is according to the newly released Kids Count report, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, that assesses the overall health of the nation’s children, including their economic health, family situation and education. The most-troubling S.C. finding is the number of children living in poverty…”
  • Kids Count report ranks W.Va. as one of worst in education, By Megan Workman, July 24, 2012, Charleston Gazette: “With nearly four out of five eighth-grade students who are not proficient in math, West Virginia received one of the worst education rankings in the country, a national report being released today shows. Nationwide, the percentage of eighth-graders who are not proficient in math decreased from 72 percent in 2005 to 66 percent in 2011, according to the report. West Virginia ranks 47th in the nation in education, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book. Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico and Nevada join West Virginia as the five states ranked weakest for education…”
  • Alabama 45th of 50 for child well-being in 2012 Kids Count Data Book, By Kim Chandler, July 25, 2012, Birmingham News: “Alabama made its best showing ever in an annual ranking of child well-being, but it still came in 45th among the 50 states. The 2012 Kids Count Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed Alabama made gains in education but continues to struggle with high rates of child poverty. The report ranked Alabama 45th, the state’s best ranking since the Data Book began publication in 1990…”
  • Oklahoma lags in child well-being ranks, By Mike Averill, July 25, 2012, Tulsa World: “Despite slight improvement, Oklahoma remains near the bottom of the country for child well-being, according to a national report that ranks states using an index of 16 indicators in four categories. Oklahoma ranked 40th overall, up from last year’s 43rd spot, according to the 2012 Kids Count Data Book released annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Texas 44th in children’s well-being, By Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, July 26, 2012, San Antonio Express-News: “Texas ranks 44th among the states when it comes to the health and well-being of its children, according to a study by a Baltimore nonprofit that advocates for at-risk kids. Using the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources, the study found the child poverty rate in Texas was higher in 2010 than the national rate of 22 percent, with 26 percent living in poverty. Texas was second from the bottom in children who lack health insurance, with an uninsured rate of 14 percent in 2010, although that’s been decreasing…”
  • Report ranks Florida behind most states on child health and education, By Margie Menzel, July 26, 2012, Daytona Beach News-Journal: “A new report Wednesday shows Florida trailing most other states in the health and education of its children — with an especially low ranking in economic well-being. The effects are harmful and could be long-term — not just for the children but for the state, advocates say. The annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Florida 44th in the economic well-being of its children, 38th in their health outcomes and 35th in their educational performance. The state ranks 38th overall. The number of Florida children living in poverty is up 28 percent from 2005 to 2010, the last year for which data was included in the study. That measurement considers such factors as whether the parents have secure employment or the ability to cover their housing costs…”

Hiring Discrimination and the Unemployed – Maryland

Md. legislation targets employer bias against unemployed, By Eileen Ambrose, March 18, 2012, Baltimore Sun: “Many long-term unemployed have discovered an ugly truth: You need a job to get one. Jobless workers across the country have recounted tales of being written off by a prospective employer if they have been out of work for six months or more. And some job ads have explicitly stated that a candidate must be currently employed. Now Maryland has joined a growing number of states considering legislation to prevent employers from discriminating against the unemployed…”

Student Homelessness – Maryland

State’s student homeless population doubles, By Jessica Anderson, January 22, 2012, Baltimore Sun: “For a few hours after school, Ryan Johnson is just like most 16-year-olds. He lounges on the couch with his favorite Xbox game or checks his Facebook page. But then reality sets in. He decamps from his cousins’ house for the Howard County cold-weather shelter. Dinner is a meal with his father and 20 other homeless people. He goes to bed early, on a green plastic mat next to strangers, who also have no other place to go in one of the state’s wealthiest counties. ‘It has been really hard,’ said Ryan, a junior at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. ‘I look at it like a detention I have to do every day, even though I didn’t do anything wrong.’ Ryan’s experience is becoming increasingly common. The number of homeless students in Maryland has more than doubled in the past five years, rising from 6,721 to 14,117 last school year, according to the Maryland State Department of Education…”

2011 Kids Count Data Book – Northeastern States

State Minimum Wage – Maryland

Minimum wage debate gains momentum in Md., By Lorraine Mirabella, April 10, 2011, Baltimore Sun: “Bridget Highkin works as hard now as she did two years ago. But then she brought home $800 a week from her waitressing job and today she’s lucky to clear $300. For now – until she completes a part-time nursing program and can find a job as a nurse – financial relief for her family hinges on a proposal to increase Maryland’s hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.75 over three years. A few more dollars an hour would allow her to stop receiving assistance for day care and food, Highkin says. ‘I live just under paycheck to paycheck,’ said Highkin, 25, who works at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Bel Air and is a single mother of two. ‘At the end of each week, I’m scraping together my last pennies in hopes that the next week I can do it again.’ Proponents of the minimum wage increase see momentum growing in its favor. Though proposed legislation has gone nowhere in the General Assembly session that ends Monday, backers say they have built support for another try next year. They also say low wages are dragging down not only individuals and their families but the broader economic recovery…”

High School Graduation Rates for Black Males – Baltimore, MD

Fewer black males are dropping out of school in Baltimore, By Liz Bowie, October 20, 2010, Baltimore Sun: “After a push to get dropouts back in the classroom and to provide students with a greater choice of schools, Baltimore has seen marked improvements in both the graduation and dropout rates for black males. In 2007, for every diploma the city handed out to a black male student, another had dropped out. In 2010, the city handed out two diplomas for every one who dropped out…”

Housing Choice Voucher Program – Baltimore, MD

Voucher program for chronically homeless loses funding, By Jessica Anderson, September 25, 2010, Baltimore Sun: “Joseph Hill proudly shows off his new home – a one-bedroom McCulloh Street apartment that is his first stable housing in 15 years. Hill, 45, who had been homeless for a third of his life, now has a place to display his collection of battered family photos and the certificates of progress marking the two years he’s been clean of drugs. But city officials and homeless advocates who hoped to duplicate Hill’s success have run into problems. Money for a voucher program that is paying the rent for Hill and nearly 400 other formerly homeless city residents has dried up. While those already enrolled in the Housing Choice Voucher program administered by the city’s Housing Authority will continue to receive benefits, the initiative is closed to new applicants…”

Food Stamp Application Process – Maryland

Social safety net to be quicker by June, By Brent Jones, March 26, 2010, Baltimore Sun: “Baltimore social service offices are planning to install an online intake system by June that could make the processing of food stamps and medical benefits applications up to 10 times faster, according to state human resource officials. The program was introduced at the city’s Hilton Heights office two months ago and is to expand to the seven other city offices in the summer. With the system, the center in West Baltimore has improved its rate of compliance with a state law governing the delivery of food stamps by more than a third, says Molly McGrath, the city’s director of social services…”

Food Stamp Application Process – Maryland

State further behind handling food stamps, medical benefits, By Brent Jones, March 15, 2010, Baltimore Sun: “Three months after a judge ordered the state to speed up delivery of food stamps and medical benefits to low-income Maryland residents, the problem has worsened, court filings show. At the end of January, the state’s Department of Human Resources was operating at an 81 percent compliance rate processing those requests, down 2.5 percentage points from the previous month, according to papers filed in Baltimore Circuit Court…”

Editorials: Child Support Guidelines – Maryland

  • A matter of fairness, Editorial, March 12, 2010, Baltimore Sun: “The last time Maryland updated its guidelines for calculating child support, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, ‘The Cosby Show’ was at the top of the ratings, and Corey Haim was at the pinnacle of his film career. The year was 1988, and under pressure from the federal government, Maryland developed a matrix of how much parents were expected to spend for their children’s food, clothing, housing and so on, based on their combined income level. The idea was that children should not have to suffer a lower standard of living just because their parents were divorced or separated, and that the parents should bear a responsibility for the costs proportionate to their income. The states were supposed to update their guidelines every four years based on changes in costs and spending patterns, but Maryland never did…”
  • Md. is behind the times and the cost of living on child support, Editorial, March 12, 2010, Washington Post: “The last time Maryland calculated what parents should reasonably pay in child support was 1988. That’s when the price of a stamp was 22 cents, the average cost of a new home was $138,300 and a gallon of gas went for $1.08. It is time Maryland stop shortchanging children and approve a long-needed update of the guidelines governing child support…”