Staffing at High-Poverty Schools

Teachers are bailing out of high-poverty schools. Some say that needs to change, By T. Keung Hui, June 16, 2017, News & Observer: “By the time most Wake County students return to class in August, a fifth of their teachers will likely have either changed schools in Wake or left the school district entirely. The annual turnover among Wake’s 10,000 teachers creates challenges in which beginning teachers get more lower-scoring students than experienced educators do – and high-poverty schools have higher teacher turnover. Now school leaders want to re-examine how teachers are assigned and allowed to transfer between schools…”

News & Observer Series on Low-income Students in Gifted Classes

Counted Out, series homepage, News & Observer: “North Carolina’s public schools are failing to help thousands of low-income children who have shown they are smart enough to handle advanced work. An unprecedented analysis of seven years of state data shows that a far larger proportion of more affluent students are selected for gifted classes over their low-income peers with the same end-of-grade test scores…”

Foster Care Program – North Carolina

State law extends foster-care benefits, By Kate Elizabeth Queram, January 25, 2017, News & Record: “A recent change in state law allows children to stay in foster care through the age of 21, a safety net that advocates say can help children continue their education and decrease their likelihood of entering the criminal justice system.  The change, known as the Foster Care 18-to-21 initiative, was passed by the General Assembly in 2015 but did not go into effect until Jan. 1. The legislation tweaks several aspects of the state’s previous foster-care policy, under which children automatically aged out of the system at age 18…”

Unemployment Benefits – North Carolina

$2 billion in trust for jobless benefits. Is it time to increase unemployment checks?, By Richard Craver, October 6, 2016, Winston-Salem Journal: “North Carolina has more than $2 billion in its trust fund to pay unemployment benefits, a level close to what federal guidelines suggest for reserves.  State Division of Employment Security officials told legislators Wednesday the amount should be enough for the agency to handle the payout demands of the next recession without having to borrow again from the federal government.  However, some unemployment advocacy groups say the trust fund should be doubled to at least $4.2 billion before state officials should be secure with the amount…”

Economic Mobility – Charlotte, NC

Where children rarely escape poverty, By Emily DeRuy and Janie Boschma, March 7, 2016, The Atlantic: “Charlotte, North Carolina, wants to change its status as one of the worst places in the United States for poor children to have a shot at getting ahead as adults. If the city succeeds, its efforts may offer a roadmap for other major metro areas gripped by barriers such as concentrated poverty and school segregation. Improving schools, particularly how they serve poor black and Latino children, will be a crucial piece in the fight to reduce inequity. Right now, the percentage of children in Charlotte attending schools where at least half the students are poor varies significantly by race…”

SNAP Work Requirements

  • Work requirement resumes for food stamp recipients in eight Kentucky counties, By Bill Estep, January 14, 2016, Lexington Herald-Leader: “More than 17,000 food stamp recipients in eight Kentucky counties must begin part-time work, education or volunteer activities to keep their benefits under a requirement reinstated this month. The rule had been waived since March 2009 because of the recession, which drove up the number of people needing food stamps across the country.  With the economy recovering, however, the federal government did not extend the statewide waiver. It expired Jan. 1…”
  • Food stamps will soon require 20 hours of work or classes in NC, By Colin Campbell, January 10, 2016, Charlotte Observer: “Food stamp recipients in North Carolina soon will lose benefits unless they prove they’re working, volunteering or taking classes for at least 20 hours a week. That federal requirement – which applies to adults under 50 who don’t have children – was suspended in 2008 as the recession hit and unemployment rates rose. But the exemption ended Jan. 1 for 23 mostly urban counties across the state, including Wake, Durham and Mecklenburg. While the 77 other counties are seeing a slower economic recovery and could continue the federal exemption, the state legislature acted last year to restore the work and education requirement statewide starting July 1…”
  • What do the SNAP benefits changes mean for West Virginians?, By Kara Leigh Lofton, January 13, 2016, West Virginia Public Broadcasting: “On January 1st, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit requirements changed for about 38 thousand adults in West Virginia. These individuals must now meet a work requirement of 20 hours a week or be enrolled in a work or education-related training program to continue receiving food assistance. Those who do not meet these requirements will cease to be eligible for benefits after three months…”

SNAP and Medicaid and Work Requirements

  • Food stamp eligibility’s tie to labor divisive, By Beth Walton, September 29, 2015, Citizen-Times: “Some North Carolinians in need will have to work a little harder to maintain food stamp benefits come January. Undoing eight years of state policy, Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration is requiring that childless, able-bodied adults ages 18 to 49 meet time-sensitive work requirements to continue receiving food assistance…”
  • Should Medicaid recipients have to work?, By Michael Ollove, September 30, 2015, Stateline: “If Arizona gets its way, its able-bodied, low-income adults will face the toughest requirements in the country to receive health care coverage through Medicaid. Most of those Medicaid recipients, and new applicants, would have to have a job, be looking for one or be in job training to qualify for the joint federal-state program for the poor. They would have to contribute their own money to health savings accounts, which they could tap into only if they met work requirements or engaged in certain types of healthy behavior, such as completing wellness physical exams or participating in smoking cessation classes. And most recipients would be limited to just five years of coverage as adults…”

State Jobless Benefit Requirements

  • N.C. House OKs tougher requirement for jobless benefits, By Richard Craver, August 19, 2015, Winston-Salem Journal: “The N.C. House approved changes Thursday to the state’s unemployment insurance benefits law that raise the number of required weekly job search contacts from two to five. Senate Bill 15, approved 83-27 on third vote, goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature. The changes would take effect Jan. 1.  The bill requires that people who receive unemployment benefits keep a record of their contacts, which can include online applications, and provide it to N.C. Division of Employment Security officials upon request…”
  • Worker advocates: New rule is Scott Walker’s latest effort to make unemployment benefits harder to collect, By Pat Schneider, August 21, 2015, Capital Times: “Patrick Hickey says that an additional filing requirement to collect unemployment compensation will lead to late checks and lost benefits, and that imposing it is part of how Gov. Scott Walker is curtailing assistance to state residents. ‘This is part and parcel of the administration’s goal to stigmatize poverty and shame poor people by making the system so cumbersome and humiliating that people give up,’ said Hickey, a member of the Workers’ Rights Center in Madison. The new rule will require workers making weekly unemployment benefits claims by phone to begin faxing or mailing in a log of their weekly job search efforts, according to a notice on the state Department of Workforce Development web site…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – North Carolina

Proposed bill would allow youth to remain in foster care until age 21, By Richard Craver, June 3, 2015, Winston-Salem Journal: “A bipartisan foster-care bill is gaining momentum in the General Assembly, with a Senate committee recommending on Tuesday approval of changes that includes providing services to youth until age 21.  There are companion ‘Fostering Success’ bills in the House (424) and Senate (424), both affecting the age limit for individuals in foster care and guardianship…”

Medicaid Expansion – North Carolina

NC may reverse course on Medicaid expansion, By Mark Barrett, November 16, 2014, Asheville Citizen-Times: “Whether to accept federal money to expand Medicaid is shaping up as one of the biggest questions to face lawmakers when the General Assembly opens its 2015 session in January. If Republicans reverse course, an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians stand to gain coverage under Medicaid, which pays health care costs for poor children, low-income elderly people and the disabled. But doing so also would force the GOP to implement a key component of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Gov. Pat McCrory and outgoing House Speaker Thom Tillis both have said in recent weeks that it is time for the state to look again at the issue…”

Concentrated Poverty – North Carolina

Poverty spreads across Mecklenburg, North Carolina, By David Perlmutt, Gavin Off and Claire Williams, August 2, 2014, Charlotte Observer: “For Oscar Olivares’ neighbors, life in their south Charlotte apartment complex is a daily struggle with little way out. The apartments off Arrowood Road look kept up on the outside. On the inside, two, even four, families often share the rent and meals. Some sleep in cars when they can’t afford to rent. Nights can bring trouble – many residents stay locked inside. Olivares, 59, and wife Claudia, who both grew up in desperate poverty in Chile, chose to live at the complex to conduct mission work. He is a part-time chaplain for Forest Hill Church and works with the nonprofit Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, two groups among many that help poor residents try to overcome poverty…”

State Medicaid Programs – Oregon, North Carolina

  • Medicaid enrollees strain Oregon, By Gosia Wozniacka (AP), July 23, 2014, ABC News: “Low-income Oregon residents were supposed to be big winners after the state expanded Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul and created a new system to improve the care they received. But an Associated Press review shows that an unexpected rush of enrollees has strained the capacity of the revamped network that was endorsed as a potential national model, locking out some patients, forcing others to wait months for medical appointments and prompting a spike in emergency room visits, which state officials had been actively seeking to avoid. The problems come amid nationwide growing pains associated with the unprecedented restructuring of the U.S. health care system, and they show the effects of a widespread physician shortage on a state that has embraced Medicaid expansion…”
  • Many low-income N.C. workers are locked out of Medicaid, By Karen Garloch, July 25, 2014, Charlotte News and Observer: “They’re construction workers, waitresses and cashiers. They care for our children and elderly parents, clean our offices and bathrooms. But they go without health insurance because their incomes aren’t high enough to qualify for federal subsidies and too high to qualify for North Carolina’s current Medicaid program for low-income and disabled citizens. More than half of the 689,000 uninsured adults North Carolinians who fall into this so-called “Medicaid gap” are employed in jobs that are critical to the state’s economy, according to a report released Thursday by the North Carolina Justice Center, the North Carolina Community Health Center Association and Families USA…”

Child Care Subsidies – North Carolina

State budget could cost thousands child-care subsidies, By Emma Baccellieri, July 11, 2014, Charlotte Observer: “Hundreds of Charlotte children – and thousands across the state – could lose their after-school care when the state budget is approved. In an attempt to give higher priority to North Carolina’s youngest and poorest children, both the House and the Senate budgets include changes to how the state determines eligibility for child care subsidies. But while the proposed system would open up space for disadvantaged children under the age of 5, it would remove funding for nearly 12,000 school-age children – leaving many families in a difficult position…”

Farmers Markets and SNAP – North Carolina

Some NC farmers markets struggle to accept food stamps, By Andrea Weigl, April 10, 2014, News and Observer: “Consumers can use food stamps to buy produce at grocery stores, but the freshest local fruits and vegetables for sale at farmers markets are often not available to them. Many local markets would love to sell to those shoppers but find they don’t have the manpower or money to be able to accept food stamps. In Wake County, five small markets with grant funding and government or other financial support already accept or will soon be accepting food stamps; a few farmers at the state-run market off Lake Wheeler Road near downtown Raleigh accept them, too. Without such support, other markets have found the process daunting…”

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…”

Jobless Benefits – California, North Carolina

  • Jobless benefits wrongly denied, By Marc Lifsher, February 25, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “Hundreds of thousands of jobless Californians last year appealed decisions of the troubled Employment Development Department, adding to months of delays in getting unemployment benefits. After holding hearings, administrative law judges at the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board rejected many of the EDD’s cursory, highly technical decisions. They threw out or revised more than half of the earlier denials, belatedly awarding long-sought assistance of up to $450 per week. The lengthy appeals added one more layer of woe for the state’s jobless to troubles at the EDD that included unanswered phone calls, glitchy computers and confusing paperwork…”
  • Report: Average jobless benefit has fallen by 18.5 percent, By Richard Craver, February 20, 2014, Winston-Salem Journal: “The average benefit amount for unemployed North Carolinians has dropped by 18.5 percent since a state law went into effect July 1 that reduced the maximum weekly amount and number of weeks, an advocacy group said Thursday. The average weekly amount was $301.89 in June, with a maximum amount of $535, according to the left-leaning N.C. Budget & Tax Center. The cuts approved by the General Assembly lowered the maximum weekly amount to $350. By December, the average weekly amount had fallen to $245.98. That meant the average claimant received about $224 less in monthly benefits compared with June…”

Teen Pregnancy in the US

  • Teen births lowest in years, By Jennifer Keefe, October 13, 2013, Foster’s Daily Democrat: “The Centers for Disease Control National Center for Health Statistics has reported teen births are at all-time lows — the lowest since World War II. In its National Vital Statistics Report of birth rate data for 2012, statisticians report a significant drop in births to teenagers 15-19 years old. Teen births were down 6 percent from 2011 to 29.4 births per 1,000 teenagers. The number of births dropped 7 percent to 305,420, the fewest since the end of World War II…”
  • Forsyth teen pregnancy rate drops for fourth straight year, By Richard Craver, October 16, 2013, Winston-Salem Journal: “The number of pregnancies among Forsyth County teens dropped 8.4 percent during 2012 to 508 — the fourth consecutive yearly drop, according to data released Wednesday by the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics…”

States and the Affordable Care Act

  • Without Medicaid expansion, no insurance for 500,000 in N.C., By John Murawski and Karen Garloch, October 12, 2013, Charlotte News and Observer: “The last time Dee Baginski worked was 2-1/2 years ago as a manager for Walmart. Then a car wreck and cancer diagnosis slammed the door on ‘a whole life in retail management.’ Now, at age 54 and two surgeries later, Baginski finds herself at an Urban Ministries of Durham homeless shelter – uninsured and applying for disability. Her former $28,000-a-year job today seems like an unattainable dream. While Baginski’s reversal of fortune is beyond anyone’s control, the fate of her health care rests in the hands of North Carolina politicians. She is among a half-million state residents who would have been eligible for Medicaid in January had officials here opted to expand that government program for the poor and disabled…”
  • W.Va. to benefit more from ACA than most other states, By Paul J. Nyden, October 12, 2013, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “West Virginians will see more benefits from the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, than residents of almost any other state, according to a new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In West Virginia 81 percent of currently uninsured residents will receive some sort of financial help in getting health insurance, either through Medicaid or through subsidies in the health insurance marketplace, the study found. That number is tied with Michigan and Kentucky for the highest in the nation…”
  • Ohio gains federal approval to expand its Medicaid program to cover state’s working poor, By Robert Higgs, October 11, 2013, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The federal government has granted Ohio authority to expand its Medicaid program to provide health coverage to the state’s working poor, an authorization that would be worth more than $1 billion to the state in its first year. The notification, received Thursday, would allow the state to increase eligibility to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, adding an estimated 275,000 Ohioans beginning Jan. 1…”
  • 146,000 Michiganders – at least – face loss of cheaper policies under new health care reform rules, By Robin Erb, October 14, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “At least 146,000 Michiganders — and possibly thousands more — with health coverage purchased directly from insurers now are learning their polices will end Dec. 31 because they don’t meet the minimum requirements of the federal health care act. Under the law, each policy must cover essential benefits in 10 categories. Instead of beefing up these policies, insurers are opting to drop them, advising consumers to consider other policies that are now available either from the insurers directly or though the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the state exchange.The policies that are ending were often less expensive on the individual market because they provided limited benefits and were sold to healthier consumers…”
  • Local health care changes limited so far, doctors say, By Bill Dries, October 15, 2013, Memphis Daily News: “The Oct. 1 start of enrollment in health care exchanges may be the most visible part of the Affordable Care Act so far. But changes to insurance and health care nationally already are about something other than lowering health care costs or widening access to health care and health insurance coverage…”