State Children’s Health Insurance Program

  • With children’s health program running dry, parents beg Congress: ‘Do the right thing’, By Robert Pear, December 19, 2017, New York Times: “With more and more states running out of money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, parents took their case to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, pleading with Congress to provide money before their sons and daughters lose health care and coverage. But the program, known as CHIP, which insures nearly nine million children, took a back seat as lawmakers raced to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut. CHIP’s fate, it appears, is now caught up in a messy fight over an end-of-the-year deal on spending that must be struck by Friday to avert a government shutdown…”
  • Kids’ health insurance hangs in balance, and parents wonder what’s wrong with Congress, By Robert Samuels, December 21, 2017, Washington Post: “The lingering uncertainty in Congress over the fate of the Children’s Health Insurance Program has left Ashlee and Levi Smith torn between optimism and anxiety. As the parents of two young children who have relied on the government-backed health-care plan, the Smiths are unsure whether they should stretch their finances to put their boys, 3 and 3 months, on a private plan — or have faith that a polarized Congress will work it out…”
  • 2 million kids will lose CHIP coverage right away, report finds, By Maggie Fox, December 21, 2017, NBC News: “Nearly 2 million children will lose health coverage starting next month if Congress doesn’t renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by Friday, a new report projects…”

Community Health Clinics

Congress won’t act; Now community health centers weigh closures, By Michael Ollove, December 18, 2017, Stateline: “Unless Congress provides funding before the end of the year, many of the nation’s 9,800 community health clinics will face service cuts or closure — potentially crippling a vital part of the health system that provides care in poor and underserved communities across every state. And the fallout could mean the loss of more than 160,000 jobs and a hit to state economies of more than $15 billion as staff cutbacks and layoffs ripple through the country. California alone could lose up to 15,841 jobs and nearly $1.7 billion next year…”

Foster Care System – Kentucky, Ohio

  • Lawmakers back big changes to Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system, but do they have the money?, By Deborah Yetter, December 19, 2017, Louisville Courier Journal: “A group of state legislators on Tuesday recommended broad changes meant to improve Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system, wrapping up eight months of study of a system critics say is overburdened, underfunded and plagued with frustrating delays. The group’s goal is to improve services for abused and neglected children and help streamline foster care and adoption if the child can’t return home. But many of the changes would be costly, and members acknowledged extra money will be in short supply as the General Assembly prepares to draft a new budget in 2018…”
  • Number of Ohio foster children rising fast during opioid crisis, By Rita Price, December 21, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “A thousand more Ohio children are in foster care this Christmas than last, and advocates say the epidemic of opioid addiction is on track to overwhelm the state’s county-based system of child protection…”

SNAP Eligibility System – Illinois

Food stamp benefits disrupted for thousands as state launches new eligibility system, By Greg Trotter, December 18, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Tens of thousands of Illinois households aren’t receiving federal food stamp benefits leading up to the holidays because of problems with a state computer system. In 2013, the state’s Department of Human Services began rolling out a new computer system to administer entitlement benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, more commonly known as SNAP or food stamps…”

State Minimum Wages

Minimum wage hikes: 18 states, 20 cities to lift pay floors Jan. 1, By Paul Davidson, December 19, 2017, USA Today: “The movement to lift earnings of low-paid workers will gather force in 2018, with a growing number of states and cities raising their minimum wages as high as $15 an hour. Proponents say the initiatives can help narrow a widening income gap between the wealthy and poor. Business advocates say they’re already leading to restaurant closings and layoffs…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

  • Millions of children could lose health coverage starting next month, By Haeyoun Park, December 14, 2017, New York Times: “Lawmakers have yet to renew federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, which insures nearly nine million children in low-income families. Most states will run out of money in the next few months if Congress does not act…”
  • Parents worry Congress won’t fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, By Alison Kodjak, December 12, 2017, National Public Radio: “It’s a beautiful morning in Pittsburgh, but Ariel Haughton is stressed out. She’s worried her young children’s health insurance coverage will soon lapse.  ‘So, we’re like a low-middle-class family, right?’ she says. ‘I’m studying. My husband’s working, and our insurance right now is 12 percent of our income — just for my husband and I. And it’s not very good insurance either…'”

Global Inequality

  • Report: America’s income inequality is on par with Russia’s, December 15, 2017, CBS News: “The lopsided fortunes of America’s richest and poorest citizens are now on par with Russia’s after three decades of rising income inequality, according to a new report from economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez…”
  • U.S. lawmakers are redistributing income from the poor to the rich, according to massive new study, By Christopher Ingraham, December 15, 2017, Washington Post: “Back in 1980, the bottom 50 percent of wage-earners in the United States earned about 21 percent of all income in the country — nearly twice as much as the share of income (11 percent) earned by the top 1 percent of Americans. But today, according to a massive new study on global inequality, those numbers have nearly reversed: The bottom 50 percent take in only 13 percent of the income pie, while the top 1 percent grab over 20 percent of the country’s income…”

Gifted Student Programs

The push to find more gifted kids: What Washington can learn from Miami’s wins, By Claudia Rowe, December 7, 2017, Seattle Times: “Every year, Lisette Rodriguez runs through the same conversation with angry, confused parents. No, she explains, their child does not qualify for a gifted-education program, despite having a high IQ score of 129. And yes, she adds, the child sitting at the next desk does qualify — despite scoring 117 — because his family is poor. ‘You’re telling me that my child would have been in gifted but isn’t, just because I can pay for his lunch?’ parents ask, incredulous. Yes, exactly, says Rodriguez, who directs advanced academic programs for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The nation’s fourth-largest school district has been using this two-tier system since the early 1990s to broaden its pool of students deemed gifted, largely because research shows that a child’s IQ is not static and can stretch with exposure to books, museums and complex material. Or, conversely, shrink under stress, frequent moves and other realities common for low-income families…”

Child Welfare System

  • Opioid crisis strains foster system as kids pried from homes, By Matt Sedensky and Meghan Hoyer (AP), December 12, 2017, ABC News: “The case arrives with all the routine of a traffic citation: A baby boy, just 4 days old and exposed to heroin in his mother’s womb, is shuddering through withdrawal in intensive care, his fate now here in a shabby courthouse that hosts a parade of human misery.  The parents nod off as Judge Marilyn Moores explains the legal process, and tests arrive back showing both continue to use heroin. The judge briefly chastises, a grandmother sobs, and by the time the hearing is over, yet another child is left in the arms of strangers because of his parents’ addiction…”
  • Data mining program designed to predict child abuse proves unreliable, DCFS says, By David Jackson and Gary Marx, December 6, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is ending a high-profile program that used computer data mining to identify children at risk for serious injury or death after the agency’s top official called the technology unreliable.

School Districts and Student Achievement

  • How effective is your school district? A new measure shows where students learn the most, By Emily Badger and Kevin Quealy, December 5, 2017, New York Times: “In the Chicago Public Schools system, enrollment has been declining, the budget is seldom enough, and three in four children come from low-income homes, a profile that would seemingly consign the district to low expectations. But students here appear to be learning faster than those in almost every other school system in the country, according to new data from researchers at Stanford…”
  • Stanford University study: Rochester schools last in U.S. in growth, By Justin Murphy, December 5, 2017, Democrat and Chronicle: “A novel, large-scale study from Stanford University shows Rochester-area primary schools are dead last among the 200 largest cities in the country for academic growth. The study, from Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, examines standardized test score results for all Rochester children and reports the apparent progress by cohort year — that is, how much more 2017 eighth-graders know compared to 2016 seventh-graders…”

Homeless Students and Academic Achievement – New York

New report shines light on homeless students’ achievement gap, By Jay Rey, December 12, 2017, Buffalo News: “Homeless students in New York City fared better on state assessment tests than students in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse who had never been homeless. Meanwhile, more than 16 percent of students in the Buffalo Public Schools who took the state tests two years ago were either homeless or had been homeless at one time. In either case, those students were about half as likely to meet state math and reading standards compared to their classmates who have always had their own place to call home…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Arizona

Locked out: Section 8 housing vouchers fail to open doors for low-income renters, By Alden Woods, December 14, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Marcella Landson set aside her Section 8 voucher and stared at the shaded map of Tempe, searching for the right neighborhood. They all seemed the same. She had come to find a home, but couldn’t even figure out where to look.  At the head of a wide conference table in the city library, Tempe Housing Services supervisor Theresa James held up her own copy of the map. About half of the city was shaded in, marking what was described as prosperity and potential. The rest was left empty, filled only by high poverty and unemployment rates. In those areas, schools performed worse. Houses and apartments sagged with age. Rents were low, but opportunities were few…”

Child Poverty – Oregon

Report: Child poverty in Oregon, Marion County on the rise, By Whitney Woodworth, December 12, 2017, Statesman Journal: “Almost half of Oregon children are being raised in low-income households and their likelihood of escaping poverty as adults is poor. In 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties, less than half of children born into low-income families will reach the middle class or beyond as adults, according to the newest annual report by the Oregon Community Foundation…”

November 2017 US Unemployment Rate

Health Care and Social Services

Study: States get big Medicaid savings from social services, outreach to sickest patients, By Jayne O’Donnell, December 5, 2017, USA Today: “Some states have achieved dramatic savings in health care costs for their sickest Medicaid patients by providing intensive one-on-one assistance and social services that help the patients better address their multiple, overlapping ailments…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

The CHIP program is beloved. Why is its funding in danger?, By Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear, December 5, 2017, New York Times: “Laquita Gardner, a sales manager at a furniture rental store here, was happy to get a raise recently except for one problem. It lifted her income just enough to disqualify her and her two young sons from Medicaid, the free health insurance program for the poor. She was relieved to find another option was available for the boys: the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, that covers nearly nine million children whose parents earn too much for Medicaid, but not enough to afford other coverage…”

Maternal Mortality

New maternal mortality strategy relies on ‘medical homes’, By Michael Ollove, December 5, 2017, Stateline: “When Hannah White first showed up at the Mountain Area Health Education Center here three years ago, she was in trouble. She was 20 years old, a couple months into her first pregnancy and on the run from an abusive husband in Texas who already had broken her ribs in an attempt, she said, to kill her unborn child. She also has a form of hemophilia which prevents her body from producing platelet granules that stem bleeding. That disease had robbed her of her Malawian mother when Hannah was three months old, which ultimately led to her adoption by American missionaries…”

American Community Survey

  • Poverty rates up in about half of Michigan’s communities, By Brian McVicar, December 7, 2017, “Michigan’s economic picture has brightened in recent years, as the unemployment rate dropped and fewer residents found themselves living under the poverty line. But census data released today show residents throughout the state are still struggling…”
  • Three things the latest census data tells us about the upper Midwest, By MaryJo  Webster, December 7, 2017, Star Tribune: “Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released data from five years’ worth of American Community Survey responses, shedding fresh light on demographic, economic and housing-related trends in counties and other small geographic areas…”

Driver’s License Suspensions

  • Changes sought as driver suspensions pile up, By Lynn Hulsey, December 5, 2017, Dayton Daily News: “Drivers in Ohio can lose their license for actions that have nothing to do with driving. Failing to pay child support. Dropping out of high school. Getting caught smoking as a juvenile. Skipping a court date or failing to pay fines on misdemeanor charges…”
  • Bill would let some D.C. drivers keep licenses despite unpaid parking tickets, By Justin Wm. Moyer, December 5, 2017, Washington Post: “A bill introduced Tuesday in the D.C. Council would prevent the city from suspending low-income residents’ driver’s licenses because they have unpaid parking fines and traffic tickets, a practice some say unfairly punishes the poor…”