Error in Food Stamp Reporting Rate – Missouri

  • Error inflates Missouri food stamp numbers, By Chad Livengood, December 15, 2009, Springfield News-Leader: “The state of Missouri has been over-counting the number of residents getting food stamp assistance for seven years — by more than a quarter of a million people in September. The reporting error inflated the number of Missourians on food stamps in September by 263,408 — from 855,408 to the reported 1,119,067, according to the Department of Social Services, which administers the food stamp program. The reporting error, which did not lead to additional food stamps being issued, was apparently caused by a computer coding error dating back to 2002, said DSS spokesman Scott Rowson…”
  • Missouri reported inflated food stamp figures to feds, By David A. Lieb (AP), December 14, 2009, Kansas City Star: “Missouri acknowledged Monday that it reported inflated numbers of food stamp recipients to the federal government, calling into question millions of dollars of bonuses paid to the state for running one of the nation’s top-flight programs. The Department of Social Services said a computer programming error has consistently exaggerated the figures submitted since September 2002. For example: the agency reported more than 1.1 million food stamp recipients this September. It now says the actual number may be closer to 855,000. The errors generally occurred when one of several food stamp participants in a household left – and thus no longer was receiving benefits – but still was counted by the computer-generated report as if he or she remained in the home…”

Report: Foster Care – Nebraska

  • Foster care news good and bad, By Paul Hammel, December 15, 2009, Omaha World-Herald: “While fewer Nebraska children were in foster care in 2008 and a record number of foster kids were adopted, the percentage of children who re-enter the system after being returned to family members was on the rise. And there are serious concerns about the lack of drug treatment for parents and the state’s move to privatize service delivery to kids in out-of-home care. Those are the good news-bad news highlights of the 2008 annual report by the Nebraska Foster Care Review Board, which was released today…”
  • Report: Percent of children returning to foster care increasing, By JoAnne Young, December 15, 2009, Lincoln Journal Star: “There was good news in 2008 about children in foster care. The number of children dropped to 4,620, compared to 5,043 the year before. And 572 — 100 more than the year before — found permanent adoptive homes. But in the middle of the good news was a disturbing trend: The percentage of children who returned to foster care increased to 41 percent in 2008, according to the Foster Care Review Board’s 2008 annual report. The report highlighted the need for more funding for mental health services for kids traumatized because they are removed from their homes and parents and then moved around in foster care…”

Child Welfare Systems – Pittsburgh and Milwaukee

  • Milwaukee child welfare system can learn from Pittsburgh area, By Gina Barton, December 14, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ That line is repeated over and over by child welfare advocates across the country. But officials in Allegheny County, Pa., have done more than just talk. They have spent the past 13 years building that village one neighborhood at a time. ‘The first step has to be: Your child welfare agency has to build trust. You’ve got to prove you’re not simply there to take people’s kids away. Then people will be more prone to get on board and band together,’ said Richard Wexler, executive director of the Virginia-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. Because Allegheny County – which includes Pittsburgh – has achieved that goal, the county’s child welfare system has transformed ‘from a national disgrace to a national model,’ Wexler often says. As the State of Wisconsin works to reform the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare with a focus on prevention, Pittsburgh holds lessons for how to implement effective reforms. Although the number of children in out-of-home care in Milwaukee County has dropped dramatically since the state took over child welfare in 1998, Milwaukee’s rate of removal remains relatively high, experts say…”
  • $15 million computer system makes agency more accountable, By Gina Barton, December 14, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Eleven years ago, the computer systems used by Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services were a mess. Ninety-six different applications couldn’t ‘talk’ to each other. Workers didn’t know how to find information in any of them. Clients were entered into the systems multiple times, so officials couldn’t figure out anything about the people they served – or even how many there were…”
  • Youth support partners have learned from experience, By Gina Barton, December 14, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Ashley Hartman was raped by her best friend’s brother when she was 13. She dropped out of school, so child welfare officials came to the house where she lived with her drug-addicted father. A year later, now a ward of the state, Hartman was addicted to drugs and living in a shelter for teens when she got pregnant – with twins. The babies’ father was 21. Today, at 19, Hartman is a high school graduate, living on her own and raising her daughters. She works full time for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. Her job is to help other teens survive the child welfare system…”
  • Support centers give families a place to interact, By Gina Barton, December 14, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Christine Hyatt walked to the Hilltop Family Care Connection center to pick up baby formula through the federal Women, Infants and Children program. While she was there, one of the workers told her about a free play group for her 1-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn Kotvas. Now, Hyatt and Kaitlyn come to the group every week. Hyatt, 24 and pregnant with her second child, also attends a new moms support group and an early-literacy program that provides her family with free books…”
  • Program empowers families to make decisions, By Gina Barton, December 14, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “When 14-year-old Lavante was shot and left a quadriplegic, his family started falling apart. His mother couldn’t eat, and her health declined to the point where she couldn’t get to the rehabilitation hospital to see her son. His father stopped at a bar every night after work. His three teenage siblings ran wild. To make matters worse, Lavante’s doctors called in a neglect complaint to Allegheny County’s Office of Children, Youth and Families. Lavante’s mother wasn’t visiting enough, they said. Further, they thought she was illiterate and were concerned about whether she would be able to care for her son…”

Poverty Measurement – Vietnam

More to qualify for aid with redefinition of poverty line, By Thu Van, December 15, 2009, Viet Nam News: “More than 6 million disadvantaged people in Viet Nam will be able to receive the Government’s financial support if the proposed poverty line is applied in 2011. This move means the State coffers will have to subsidise basic living costs for 16 million people who live in extremely poor conditions. With the current poverty standard, there are 10 million residents living below this line. According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs’ recent proposal, the new poverty standard includes those living in rural areas who earn VND350,000 (US$19) or less a month,or those living in urban areas who earn VND450,000 ($25) or less a month. The existing poverty line, which was created in 2005, is VND200,000 per person per month in the countryside and VND260,000 for those living in urban areas…”

Poll of Unemployed Adults

  • Poll reveals trauma of joblessness in U.S., By Michael Luo and Megan Thee-Brenan, December 14, 2009, New York Times: “More than half of the nation’s unemployed workers have borrowed money from friends or relatives since losing their jobs. An equal number have cut back on doctor visits or medical treatments because they are out of work. Almost half have suffered from depression or anxiety. About 4 in 10 parents have noticed behavioral changes in their children that they attribute to their difficulties in finding work. Joblessness has wreaked financial and emotional havoc on the lives of many of those out of work, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll of unemployed adults, causing major life changes, mental health issues and trouble maintaining even basic necessities…”
  • Poll: For many, unemployment brings crisis, By Brian Montopoli, December 14, 2009, CBS News: “The economic downturn has brought financial crisis, emotional problems and difficulty in attaining basic medical care into the lives of unemployed Americans, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds. The poll, taken as unemployment stands at ten percent, marks the most in-depth look at the situation faced by the unemployed of any recent survey. To gather the data, CBS News and the New York Times interviewed more than 700 unemployed Americans. They found that 86 percent of those surveyed say the loss of their jobs plunged them into crisis. For 46 percent of the unemployed, that crisis was described as ‘major.’ And it tends to deepen with time: Among those out of work more than six months, 57 percent say their unemployment caused a major life crisis…”