Baby Boxes – Washington, DC

Baby boxes proposed in D.C. as wave of states look to Finland to prevent infant deaths, By Michael Alison Chandler, July 27, 2017, Washington Post: “To prevent infant deaths in the District, lawmakers are considering a tool that has become synonymous with the record-low infant mortality rate in Finland — a cardboard box. ‘Baby boxes’ come packed with new baby supplies and are outfitted with a firm, foam mattress so they can double as a bassinet during the baby’s first months, offering a safer alternative to co-sleeping…”

Welfare Reform – Washington, DC

District does an about-face on welfare reform with decision to keep helping long-term recipients, By Paul Duggan, July 24, 2017, Washington Post: “In 2011, long-term welfare recipients in the District had reason to be gravely worried, because the D.C. Council and then-Mayor Vincent C. Gray seemed intent on ending benefits entirely for families that had been on the rolls for longer than 60 months. The cutoff date, dubbed ‘the cliff,’ was set for October of this year, after which about 6,000 impoverished adults with roughly 12,000 children would be left to fend for themselves financially…”

Family Homelessness – Washington DC

There are now more homeless kids and parents in D.C. than homeless single adults, By Aaron C. Davis, May 11, 2016, Washington Post: “The number of homeless families in the District has soared by more than 30 percent compared with a year ago, according to a federal estimate released Wednesday.  For the first time since the annual census began in 2001, homeless children and their parents in the District outnumbered homeless single adults, a population beset by mental illness and disabilities that historically has loomed as the larger and more in­trac­table problem in cities nationwide…”

Housing First – Washington, DC

Women in D.C. housing-first units concentrate on their futures, By Julie Zauzmer, November 15, 2015, Washington Post: “For the first time in her tumultuous 22 years, Kortney Parkey has an apartment of her own.  Like anyone with a new home, Parkey is happy to give a visitor the grand tour. She shows off the ample closet space, the newly renovated kitchen and bathroom, the pretty patterned bedspread and the place mats on the table that match the blue doors.   But there’s so much more to this apartment that Parkey can’t point to. That here, at last, she is out from under the thumb of a crooked boss, a dishonest landlord, an abusive man. That she can shut her own door, an impossible luxury in the homeless shelters that have been her home more often than not for the past two years. That this place gives her a foothold to keep her job and improve her health…”

Paid Family Leave – Washington DC

D.C.’s 16-week family leave plan would be most generous in U.S., By Aaron C. Davis October 5, 2015, Washington Post: “The District would become the most generous place in the country for a worker to take time off after giving birth or to care for a dying parent under a measure supported by a majority of the D.C. Council. Under the legislation that will be introduced Tuesday, almost every part-time and full-time employee in the nation’s capital would be entitled to 16 weeks of paid family leave to bond with an infant or an adopted child, recover from an illness, recuperate from a military deployment or tend to an ill family member…”

Minimum Wage Proposals

  • Higher minimum-wage proposals gain ground on both coasts, By Lisa Leff and David Klepper (AP), July 23, 2015, ABC News: “The push for a higher minimum wage gained momentum on both sides of the country, with New York embracing an eventual $15 an hour for the state’s 200,000 fast-food workers and the huge University of California system announcing the same raise for its employees…”
  • California, New York and Washington, D.C., make moves on minimum wage, By Sam Sanders, July 22, 2015, National Public Radio: “A wave of wage increases in cities across the country, as well as at several major businesses, continued on Wednesday.  University of California President Janet Napolitano announced that the minimum wage for direct and contract employees in the U.C. system working 20 hours or more per week will be raised to $15 an hour over the next three years. The first hike will be to $13 an hour on Oct. 1, 2015. The minimum wage will then jump to $14 a year later, and hit $15 an hour on Oct. 1, 2017…”

Homeless Shelter Shortage – Washington, D.C.

D.C. seeks motels to house families this winter amid expected homeless surge, By Robert Samuels, November 5, 2014, Washington Post: “D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration has been seeking out motels that could be used this winter as makeshift emergency family shelters in an effort to handle the expected surge in homeless families, according to internal documents and interviews with city officials. Securing the facilities could help prevent a repeat of the pratfalls that occurred last winter, when officials said they had no alternative to placing families in Maryland motels and city recreation centers, until a judge ruled that the latter is illegal. At that point, the shelter at the dilapidated, old D.C. General Hospital had filled to the brim, and city motels were booked up…”

DC Promise Neighborhood

Tackling poverty: DC community tries new approach: By Kimberly Hefling, May 24, 2014, Washington Post: “The corner Safeway is long gone, closed after looting following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968. Some residents have no choice but to buy groceries from an old ice-cream truck. Others rely on men known as “riders” who transport shoppers for a few bucks. Occasional gunshots ring out even as the days of out-of-state drivers lining the streets to buy drugs are largely over. Young children are everywhere except during school hours, when many are scattered far from home at 150 schools around the nation’s capital because of a long history of subpar education in the neighborhood. . .”

Achievement Gaps

  • Academic achievement gap persists for Hispanic students, By Martha Mendoza, December 22, 2013, Los Angeles Daily News: “As Hispanics surpass white Californians in population next year, the state becomes a potential model for the rest of the country, which is going through a slower but similar demographic shift. But when it comes to how California is educating students of color, many say the state serves as a model of what not to do. In California, 52 percent of the state’s 6 million school children are Hispanic, just 26 percent are white…”
  • D.C. high school graduation rate ticks up, but wide achievement gaps remain, By Emma Brown, December 20, 2013, Washington Post: “The District’s high school graduation rate ticked up to 64 percent in 2013, a three-point gain over the previous year, according to data that city officials quietly released last week. But the city average — long among the lowest in the country — masks wide gaps between different groups of students and different schools, with charter schools and the school system’s selective high schools posting higher rates than traditional neighborhood schools…”

Rapid Rehousing – Washington DC

  • Rapid rehousing: A new way to head off homelessness, By Brigid Schulte, August 18, 2013, Washington Post: “At a little after 7 on an August morning, Contessa Allen-Starks puts on her beige scrubs, pours coffee into a plastic foam cup, locks the door to her apartment and hurries to the A4 bus stop on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SW for an hour-long commute to her job in Dupont Circle…”
  • To be self-sufficient, first you have to find an affordable apartment, By Brigid Schulte, August 18, 2013, Washington Post: “After nine months of being homeless, all Yolanda Pharr can think about is how much she misses a stove. She’s been living in a Days Inn motel room off New York Avenue with her six boys – four boys to one double bed, she and two boys to another — because DC General is full. She longs for the ordinary grace of cooking dinner…”
  • Homeless believe remaining in shelter will net them permanent subsidies, By Brigid Schulte, August 18, 2013, Washington Post: “Jordan Love Smith is convinced Rapid Rehousing won’t work for her. She stands outside DC General on a hot summer day, under a cement awning that provides the only shade on the sweltering day. Some residents sit in lawn chairs, eating, doing each other’s hair, yelling ‘Get over here! Now!’ at the children playing on the steaming sidewalk when they get too close to the curb…”

Child Care Assistance

  • Legislature advances push for higher child care subsidies, By Martha Stoddard, May 23, 2013, Omaha World-Herald: “Nebraska ranks among the top states in number of working parents but dead last when it comes to helping those parents pay for child care. The state would climb to No. 44 under a bill that won second-round approval Wednesday in the Legislature. Legislative Bill 507 would allow Nebraska parents to qualify for child care subsidies at incomes up to 130 percent of the federal poverty level…”
  • In D.C., parents miss work, lose jobs trying to get child-care subsidy, By Brigid Schulte, May 15, 2013, Washington Post: “At 6:30 a.m. on a Wednesday early this month, Andria Swanson, dressed in a bright-pink terry cloth jumpsuit, joined a line that was already snaking down South Capitol Street in Congress Heights. She nervously counted the people ahead of her. ‘I’m number 19,’ she said. ‘That means I’ll get in today.’ At number 20, she said, caseworkers close the doors and tell you to come back another day…”
  • Grandparents urge state to reconsider cuts to child care assistance programs, By Beth Musgrave, May 21, 2013, Lexington Herald-Leader: “Grandparents pleaded with state officials Tuesday to reverse a freeze on new applications for a program that provides $300 in monthly assistance to relatives who take custody of abused and neglected children. Among those testifying at a public hearing Tuesday was Sandra Flynn of Lexington, who has been caring for five grandchildren — including a set of twins who were born addicted to drugs — for two years. Flynn said she relies on the $300 check per child and a little less than $300 in food stamps to provide for her family of seven…”

Charter Schools – Washington, DC

D.C. debates growth of charter schools, By Emma Brown, February 10, 2013, Washington Post: “It’s the latest sign that the District is on track to become a city where a majority of children are educated not in traditional public schools but in public charters: A California nonprofit group has proposed opening eight D.C. charter schools that would enroll more than 5,000 students by 2019. The proposal has stirred excitement among those who believe that Rocketship Education, which combines online learning and face-to-face instruction, can radically raise student achievement in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods…”

Student Homelessness – Washington DC

Homeless student population to crest 2,500 in Fairfax County for first time, By T. Rees Shapiro, October 20, 2012, Washington Post: “The number of homeless students in Fairfax County public schools is likely to surpass 2,500 by the end of this school year, according to school officials, what would be a new record for one of the most affluent communities in the nation. Experts say the increase in homelessness among students, from kindergarten to high school, is related to the lingering effects of the recession. This year’s total will be nearly 10 times the number of homeless students counted in county schools just 15 years ago…”

Homelessness – Washington, D.C.

‘Heart-wrenching’ Catch-22: Homeless families who turn to city for help find no rooms, risk child welfare inquiry, By Annie Gowen, June 23, 2012, Washington Post: “When Shakieta Smith, a homeless mother of two, called the District’s shelter hotline in March, she was told the city’s shelters were full — and then the intake worker added a chilling warning: If she and her kids had nowhere safe to sleep, she’d be reported to the city’s Child and Family Services Agency for a possible investigation into abuse and neglect. Since then Smith has spent her days looking over her shoulder and her nights worrying about her family’s uncertain future. Could Child Protective Services investigators find her and her two kids at a cousin’s apartment in Southeast, where they often stay? Would they sweep in and take Da’Quan and Da’Layah from their elementary school one afternoon? The fear haunts her. . .”

Food Deserts – Washington, D.C.

Planting fresh produce in D.C.’s ‘food deserts’, By Tim Carman, June 19, 2012, Washington Post: “To reach Jimmy Singleton’s “corner store” at the Marbury Plaza Apartments in Ward 7, residents must take the elevator down to the basement and navigate a series of barren, unmarked hallways until they find a nondescript doorway that leads to Marbury Market. For the hundreds of residents here, this is their nearest grocery store. The co-owner learned the dangers of trying to survive on the market’s junk food-heavy stock — chips, sodas, candy bars, sticky buns and the like. Not long after he bought the store in 2005, Singleton turned it into his primary feeding trough. “In a year’s time, I had gained about 75 pounds,” he says. “I got so big, customers started talking about me.” He decided he needed to silence them; he made a New Year’s resolution to lose the pounds — by not eating at his market. . .”

Family Homelessness – Washington DC

Homelessness on the rise in D.C., Loudoun County, but steady in region, study shows, By Annie Gowen, May 9, 2012, Washington Post: “Although the overall number of homeless in the region remained virtually unchanged from last year, the number of families without homes rose for the third straight year and places such as the District and Loudoun County had significant overall increases, a yearly survey showed. The number of homeless people in the region dipped slightly – by 0.4 percent – to 11,830 this year, according to the annual ‘point-in-time’ homeless survey released Wednesday by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. In the District, the number of homeless families soared 18 percent and homelessness increased 6 percent overall, the report said. The District is struggling with a $7 million shortfall in services for the homeless after a loss of federal funding. The city’s family shelter is filled to capacity, and more than 100 families are living in motels along New York Avenue NE at an average cost of $100 a night…”

Child Welfare and Foster Care – Oregon, Washington DC

  • New child welfare audit says Oregon can do more to reunite parents and kids in foster care, By Michelle Cole, April 24, 2012, The Oregonian: “While Oregon child welfare caseworkers do better than the national average in seeing that children taken into state foster care are returned to their parents, a new audit also finds caseworkers often do not include parents in critical discussions concerning their families and have little time to ensure meaningful visits between parents and kids. Overall, the 28-page report portrays a system under stress. Overworked child welfare staff do not get much help from the central office in prioritizing their work. Parents were unable to get addiction treatment, mental health care or other services they needed before they could bring their kids back home…”
  • If fewer kids are in D.C. foster care, why isn’t agency’s budget decreasing?, By Justin Moyer, April 24, 2012, Washington Post: “The number of children in the District’s child welfare system is continuing to drop, prompting officials to take a fresh look at how the city spends its $265 million child welfare budget. Across the region and across the country, social service agencies are seeing such declines, though the implications are especially significant for the District, which has a long history of child welfare crises. No single factor explains the drop in the District, but experts believe that the city’s changing demographics and renewed emphasis on keeping troubled families together are driving the trend. According to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), the number of children it supervises has fallen to 3,400 from 4,654 in early 2009, a change of almost 30 percent…”

Income Inequality – Washington DC

Income inequality gap in D.C. one of nation’s widest, By Carol Morello, March 7, 2012, Washington Post: “The District has one of the highest levels of income inequality among the nation’s cities, with the top fifth earning on average 29 times the income of the bottom fifth. Only Atlanta and Boston showed higher levels of income inequality in 2010, according to an analysis of census data by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. Driving the gap is the enormous gulf between a sliver of top earners and a mass of households with paltry incomes. According to the analysis, the top 5 percent of households in the District averaged $473,000 a year, far above the $292,000 averaged by their counterparts in other large cities…”

Homelessness Programs – Texas, Washington DC

  • Texas funding cut leaves local agencies scrambling to continue services for homeless, By Alex Branch, March 3, 2012, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “The impact of state budget cuts on homeless programs is evident on the calendar pages inside Larry Beasely’s personal planner. Last year, full hours were blocked off and highlighted for one-on-one assessments that Beasely, a case manager, conducted with people staying at the Salvation Army’s emergency shelter in Fort Worth. This year, each line is crammed with the names of people he assessed in hurried 15-minute meetings. The shelter reduced its case managers from four to one after the state eliminated funding for a $20 million state homeless housing and services program last year. Other programs affected by the cuts include an employment program, street outreach and rental assistance…”
  • Montgomery County grapples with chronic homelessness, By Victor Zapana, March 5, 2012, Washington Post: “On the streets of Bethesda, the hard-core homeless live mostly in the shadows. Many of them steer clear of the main thoroughfares. Few venture into shelters. But amid a downturn that has cut social-services spending and forced officials to make the most of government funds, Montgomery County says it is focusing more of its homelessness efforts on the people with some of the most complicated needs. The chronically homeless are often on the streets for at least a year and face not only economic hardships but also problems such as mental illness and addiction that can make housing them a significant challenge. County officials began targeting such people last year, setting aside housing vouchers to get them a roof over their heads before grappling with underlying issues…”

Achievement Gaps – New Orleans, Washington DC

  • New Orleans public school achievement gap is narrowing, By Andrew Vanacore, August 7, 2011, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “For as long as records have been kept, black students in New Orleans’ public schools have lagged far behind the city’s white students on the annual exams that Louisiana uses to track student achievement, reflecting wide income disparities and other factors. What’s more, black students in the city have traditionally fallen behind their black peers in the rest of the state, where the so-called achievement gap has historically been less pronounced. That second metric changed this year for the first time. State data show that 53 percent of African-American youngsters in New Orleans scored at grade level or better on state tests this spring, compared with 51 percent of black students across Louisiana. Just four years ago, only 32 percent of black students in New Orleans had achieved grade level, compared with 43 percent statewide…”
  • Huge achievement gaps persist in D.C. schools, By Bill Turque, August 6, 2011, Washington Post: “The gulf in academic achievement separating public schools in the District’s poorest neighborhoods from those in its most affluent has narrowed slightly in some instances but remains vast, an analysis of 2011 test score data show. Children in Ward 7 and 8 schools trailed their Ward 3 peers in reading and math pass rates by huge margins – from 41 to 56 percentage points – on this year’s D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System exams. The tests are given annually to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10…”