Child Poverty – Dallas, TX

One in five Dallas-area children lives in poverty, report finds, By Corbett Smith, November 14, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “One in five children in North Texas lives in poverty, with more than 260,000 kids in the area considered food insecure, according to a biennial study released Tuesday from Children’s Health and the University of Texas at Dallas…”

Child Poverty – Dallas, TX

Dallas’ child poverty rate drops, but still high compared to other major U.S. cities, By Tristan Hallman, September 26, 2017, Dallas News:”Dallas is no longer home to highest percentage of children living in poverty in major U.S. cities, according to new estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Mayor’s Poverty Task Force on Tuesday announced that the rate has fallen over the last three years. From 2014 to 2016, the American Community Survey’s estimates showed that 26,000 fewer Dallas children are living in poverty — dropping the rate to 30.6 percent from 37.8 percent. The overall poverty rate also fell, and the city has a relatively low rate among residents 65 and older…”

Natural Disaster Recovery

  • ‘Nowhere else to go’: Small Texas towns decimated by hurricane struggle to rebuild amid poverty, By Mary Lee Grant, September 10, 2017, Washington Post: “At a small rural hospital in this shrimping and tourist town of about 3,000, some patients visited the emergency room twice a day, obtaining insulin and other medications they could not afford to buy themselves. Nurses sometimes pooled their money to pay for patients’ cab fare home…”
  • Irma pushes Florida’s poor closer to the edge of ruin, By Jay Reeves (AP), September 14, 2017, Washington Post: “Larry and Elida Dimas didn’t have much to begin with, and Hurricane Irma left them with even less. The storm peeled open the roof of the old mobile home where they live with their 18-year-old twins, and it destroyed another one they rented to migrant workers in Immokalee, one of Florida’s poorest communities. Someone from the government already has promised aid, but Dimas’ chin quivers at the thought of accepting it…”
  • Homeless and in college. Then Harvey struck, By Anya Kamenetz, September 15, 2017, National Public Radio: “Christina Broussard was trapped in her grandmother’s living room for three days during Hurricane Harvey. Rain poured through the ceiling in the bathrooms and bedrooms. Broussard’s a student at Houston Community College. Her grandmother is 74 and uses a wheelchair…”
  • Texas CPS, foster-care providers go all out to protect vulnerable children from Hurricane Harvey, By Robert T. Garrett, September 11, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “Texas Child Protective Services and its contractors had to evacuate more than 400 foster kids in institutions because of Hurricane Harvey and, probably, hundreds more who lived in foster homes along the Gulf coast, protective services officials said Monday…”

State Medicaid Programs – Texas, Maine

  • How Medicaid expansion could help Texas mothers, By Behrouz Zand, August 3, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Between 2010 and 2012, the rate doubled. And the rate in Texas between 2012 and 2014 remained high, with approximately 35 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Texas’ rates are about seven times greater than in Canada and European countries. As a result, the Texas Legislature established the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force in 2013. This 15-member task force of mostly physicians and healthcare experts set out to find out why pregnancy-related deaths have skyrocketed and what can be done to decrease them…”
  • Maine moves ahead with plan to charge Medicaid recipients, make them work, By Patty Wight, August 3, 2017, Bangor Daily News: “People who receive MaineCare — the state’s version of Medicaid — may soon have to work and pay monthly premiums in order to get benefits. Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services officially filed an application this week to the federal government to make those changes. Critics say Maine’s plan would erect barriers to health care that will drive up costs for everyone…”

Summer Meal Programs

  • Texas has more kids eligible for free summer meals. Why is the state feeding fewer?, By Aliyya Swaby, August 2, 2017, Texas Tribune: “When Evelyn Delgado saw a banner outside her daughter’s Houston school advertising free breakfasts and lunches this June, she figured it was an opportunity to give her 7-year-old good food and a chance to get out of the house. Delgado used to work at a local Fiesta Mart and leave her two kids with a babysitter, before she realized that paying the sitter was eating up her paltry wages. Now a stay-at-home mom with a husband who works in maintenance, she said the summer program helps feed her kids, who are eligible for free meals during the school year…”
  • When school’s out, rural Texas towns struggle to feed their hungry kids, By Aliyya Swaby, August 3, 2017, Texas Tribune: “Clara Crawford tapped the horn three times. Seconds later, two young boys ran down the steps of their house, their mother waving goodbye from the porch. Each summer, most days of the week, the 86-year-old Crawford drives a 1995 Ford cargo van 35 miles to gather up about 20 hungry children in Fairview, an unincorporated community in Rusk County, and the neighboring city of Reklaw. She takes them to a program she runs at a local community center where they can play basketball in the hot sun and get a full lunch plus a snack…”
  • Children in low-income families suffer during the summer without subsidized school food programs, By Leslie Albrecht, August 1, 2017, MarketWatch: “Families who rely on government food programs to keep their fridges stocked don’t have the financial resources to feed themselves when those programs disappear, according to a new study circulated by the Cambridge, Mass.-based National Bureau of Economic Research. Researchers wanted to see how families changed their spending habits after losing government food assistance, so they analyzed what happened in the summer months when low-income children don’t have access to school breakfast and lunch programs…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

3-state study sizes up gains via Medicaid; coverage soars in Arkansas, Kentucky, less so in Texas, By Andy Davis, May 23, 2017, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “Three years after their states expanded Medicaid, low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be more likely to have a doctor and less likely to have trouble paying medical bills or to delay seeking care because of the cost, a study has found. The study, conducted annually since 2013 by researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found those and other improvements in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be significant compared with smaller or nonexistent gains in Texas, which did not expand Medicaid…”

Low-Income Housing – Wisconsin, Texas

  • Scott Walker’s budget would limit low-income tax credits to those who work, By Jason Stein, February 13, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would require able-bodied adults to work to receive a low-income housing credit — part of broader proposals in the bill to move more people into jobs. Starting in 2018, able-bodied adults below the age of 62 will need to earn money to claim the state’s Homestead Credit. The disabled and seniors would be exempt from the requirement…”
  • State lawmakers take aim at low-income housing, By Lydia DePillis, February 15, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Two bills filed this month in the state legislature would make it harder to develop affordable housing in Texas, imposing onerous new requirements on the projects and giving neighbors broad powers to oppose them. Although the chances of passage are unclear — thousands of measures are filed during the four-month session and only a few become law — the bills would be consistent with many other restrictions the legislature has placed on affordable housing development. Meanwhile, helping low-income people access housing is a rising concern for Texas cities, as a flood of new residents has boosted the cost of both rental and for-sale units…”

Foster Care System – Texas

Sweeping reforms recommended for Texas foster care system, By Mike Ward, November 4, 2016, Houston Chronicle: “A pair of special masters on Friday recommended sweeping changes to Texas’ scandal-plagued foster care system, including a ban on housing children in state offices and new limits on group homes.  The numbers of cases assigned to Child Protective Services workers should be cut in half to curb skyrocketing turnover rates and improve supervision, the report states…”

Kids Count Report – Texas

  • Far more Dallas children have health insurance since Obamacare passed, study says, By Naomi Martin, April 13, 2016, Dallas Morning News: “The number of children with health insurance has spiked in Dallas County and in much of Texas since 2009, even as child poverty continues to be a major problem, according to a study released Wednesday.  About 1 in 3 children in Dallas County and the state lives in poverty, the Center for Public Policy Priorities has concluded. But about 87 percent of children in Dallas County have some form of health insurance, vs. 78 percent in 2009.  Despite that, Dallas County’s rate of uninsured children is among the highest in the state. And Texas has the worst uninsured rate in the country, according to the study…”
  • Study: Over 30% of black and Hispanic students in high-poverty schools, By Melissa B. Taboada, April 13, 2016, Austin American-Statesman: “Hispanic students in Texas are seven times more likely than white students to be enrolled in high-poverty schools, which often have fewer tenured and effective teachers, according to a new report being released Wednesday that examines the well-being of the state’s children.  Black students are over 5 times more likely than whites to be enrolled in those same schools, says the State of Texas Children annual report based on data for the 2014-15 school year. The report is being issued by the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank that lobbies for low- to moderate-income Texans…”

High-Poverty Schools – Dallas, TX

Dallas ISD to ask city for help integrating high-poverty schools, By Tawnell D. Hobbs and Holly D. Hacker, February 16, 2016, Dallas Morning News: “Dallas ISD wants to try something radical this fall: Open a school where half the kids are poor and half aren’t. It’s radical because the vast majority of DISD schools are high poverty. Campuses with socioeconomic diversity are few and far between. Many middle- and upper-class families have left DISD over the years for private or suburban schools. To succeed, Dallas ISD will have to lure more students from families with more money back to district schools. Research shows that poor children do much better when they learn alongside wealthier peers…”

Medicaid Expansion for Children – Texas, Florida

Texas and Florida did expand Medicaid — for kids, By Phil Galewitz, September 29, 2014, USA Today: “Republican lawmakers in Florida and Texas snubbed the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion for adults, but their states did broaden the program this year — for school-age children. Those states were among 21 — including some big Democrat-led states, such as California — that were required to widen Medicaid eligibility for children between the ages of 6 and 18 by 2014. That little-known provision of the health law was one factor helping 1.5 million kids gain coverage in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, according to a survey of a dozen states by Kaiser Health News…”

Migrant Laborers

Migrant laborers slip through the tattered safety net in Texas, By Jay Root, June 30, 2014, Texas Tribune: “Along a street lined with warehouses on the east side of Houston, nine Mexican laborers working about 20 feet off the ground are tearing up a concrete roof with handmade pickaxes.They are chiseling it out, one mattress-size panel at a time, then shoving the debris onto the floor below. There’s a giant pile of rubble down there, a jumble of dirty insulation, tar-covered roof decking and fire-suppression water pipes ripped from the building’s interior. To call the work hazardous would be an understatement. The workers are standing on the very roof they are demolishing, and none of them is wearing so much as a hard hat, let alone fall protection equipment like harnesses and lanyards. Technically, federal authorities require that, but the chances of a surprise inspection — or any interference from a state government that brags about its light regulations. . .”

Oil Booms and Poverty – Texas

Boom meets bust in Texas: Atop sea of oil, poverty digs in, By Manny Fernandez and Clifford Krauss, June 29, 2014, New York Times: “From the window of her tin-roofed trailer, Judy Vargas can glimpse a miraculous world. It is as close as the dust kicked up by the trucks barreling by but seems as distant as Mars. As you walk out of her front yard — where the chewed-off leg of an animal, probably a feral hog caught by a prowling bobcat, rots outside — a towering natural gas flare peeks over the southerly view. Across the railroad tracks and Interstate 35, a newly reopened railroad interchange stores acres of pipe and receives shipments of sand from Wisconsin to be used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Next to the terminal is an expanding natural gas processing plant that lies in the heart of the Eagle Ford, a giant shale oil field that here in La Salle County alone produces more than $15 million worth of oil a day, or about one out of every 55 barrels produced in the United States. . .”

Unaccompanied Child Migrants

Surge in child migrants reaches New York, overwhelming advocates, By Kirk Semple, June 17, 2014, New York Times: “For more than a month, 16-year-old Cristian threaded his way from his home in rural Guatemala to the United States, hoping to reunite with his father, whom he had not seen in nearly four years. Guided by smugglers, he rode in cars, buses and trains, walked countless miles, dodged the authorities in three countries, hid out in dreary safe houses and went days at a time without food. But Cristian’s trip came to an abrupt halt in March, when he was corralled on a patch of Texas ranchland by American law enforcement agents. Now the daunting trials of his migration have been replaced by a new set of difficulties. Though he was released to his father, a kitchen worker in a restaurant in Ulster County, N.Y., Cristian has been ordered to appear in immigration court for a deportation hearing and is trying to find a low-cost lawyer to take his case . . .”

Medicaid Expansion

  • In Texarkana, uninsured and on the wrong side of a state line, By Annie Lowrey, June 8, 2014, New York Times: “On a hazy, hot evening here, Janice Marks ate a dinner of turkey and stuffing at a homeless shelter filled with plastic cots before crossing a few blocks to the Arkansas side of town to start her night shift restocking the dairy cases at Walmart. The next day, David Tramel and Janice McFall had a free meal of hot dogs and doughnut holes at a Salvation Army center in Arkansas before heading back to their tent, hidden in a field by the highway in Texas. None of the three have health insurance. But had Ms. Marks, 26, chosen to sleep on the side of town where she works, or had Mr. Tramel and Ms. McFall, who are both in their early 20s, made their camp where they had eaten their dinner, their fortunes might be different. . .”
  • Long waits persist for those applying for Medicaid coverage in many states, By Phil Galewitz, June 7, 2014, Washington Post: “While an unprecedented 6 million people have gained Medicaid coverage since September, mostly as a result of the Affordable Care Act, more than 1.7 million more are still waiting for their applications to be processed — with some stuck in limbo for as long as eight months, according to officials in 15 large states. The scope of the problem varies widely. California accounts for a lion’s share of the backlog with 900,000 applications pending as of early June. The next-biggest pileup is in Illinois, with 283,000 cases, while New York has no backlog at all. All three states have implemented the health law’s expansion of Medicaid . . . “

Child Poverty – Dallas, TX

Study: Nearly 30% of Dallas County children growing up in poverty, By Sherry Jacobson, November 12, 2013, Dallas Morning News: “Despite an improving economy, children in Dallas County are still suffering, according to a report released Tuesday by Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Nearly 30 percent of those 18 and younger were living below the poverty level last year. Some had no health insurance and many were in homes without enough food. ‘Poverty is the common factor in substandard academic achievement, exposure to crime, domestic abuse and emotional distress,’ said Christopher J. Durovich, Children’s president and chief executive officer. ‘Without access to preventive health care, impoverished children also suffer from needless illnesses.’ He said he was surprised the percentage of poverty-stricken children has been virtually unchanged for the last three years…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – Texas

Bill to drug-test welfare applicants approved, By Chuck Lindell, March 26, 2013, Austin American-Statesman: “The Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved a bill to implement drug testing for welfare applicants after changes were made to ensure that benefits for children would continue despite a positive drug test for a parent. Benefits would be cut off only for the adult who tests positive for drugs, said the bill’s author, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. A second positive test would cancel the adult’s benefits for one year, though Temporary Assistance for Needy Families could be reinstated after six months with proof of completion or enrollment in a drug-rehabilitation program. A third drug test would produce a lifetime ban from welfare benefits, Nelson said…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • At Capitol, fight is on to expand Medicaid, By Chuck Lindell, February 17, 2013, Austin American-Statesman: “Adamantly opposed to expanding Medicaid coverage under President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had seemingly squelched efforts this legislative session to insure an additional 1.1 million low-income Texans under the Affordable Care Act. But a determined campaign, targeting legislators with public pressure and private persuasion, has kept the issue alive by framing Medicaid expansion as an economic bonanza and tax-relief opportunity that would bring $79 billion in much-needed federal money over 10 years. The arguments, pitched to Republican ears, have carved out a small space in which lawmakers can work toward an agreement that once appeared impossible…”
  • Medicaid takes a back seat in the 89th General Assembly, By Andrew DeMillo (AP), February 17, 2013, Arkansas Business Online: “What happened to the Medicaid session? Despite all the talk before lawmakers gathered at the Arkansas Capitol that Medicaid’s finances and future would overshadow just about every other issue, there’s been scant attention paid to the $5 billion program and efforts to expand it under the federal health care law. Medicaid is instead taking a backseat to a growing number of conservative causes — new abortion restrictions, relaxed gun rules and voter ID, to name a few — that are easily winning support now that Republicans control the House and the Senate. As this year’s session enters its sixth week, those GOP-backed proposals have taken center stage, rather than discussions on whether Arkansas should expand the Medicaid program by 250,000 people under the federal health care law…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Texas deal on Medicaid expansion sought, By Chris Tomlinson (AP), January 24, 2013, Houston Chronicle: “The Affordable Care Act is the federal law that Texas Republicans love to hate, but one top lawmaker says expanding health care for the working poor could happen if federal authorities are willing to strike a deal. Republican Sen. Jane Nelson, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, said she hopes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will allow Texas to receive $27 billion to expand Medicaid. But she said the key is to allow lawmakers to develop a Texas-specific program that will not blow the state’s budget…”
  • New bill would expand Nebraska’s Medicaid program, By Martha Stoddard, January 23, 2013, Omaha World-Herald: “Savings produced by the federal health care law could more than pay for extending Medicaid to thousands of low-income Nebraskans, according to a key lawmaker. State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha released an analysis of potential costs and savings for the expansion Wednesday. He did so as a group of state lawmakers introduced a bill to expand Medicaid coverage as allowed under the federal health care overhaul…”
  • Snyder eyes mental health makeover, By Alanna Durkin (AP), January 25, 2013, Escanaba Daily Press: “Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to fill the gaps of Michigan’s mental health care system might lie in his ability to convince lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to expand Medicaid to provide 500,000 Michigan residents with coverage under the federal Affordable Health Care Act. Snyder, a Republican, told the Associated Press Wednesday that it would ‘actually expand mental health coverage significantly’ and that it is ‘one of the factors’ he is ‘taking into account.’ Snyder said he will ‘make that call’ during his budget presentation Feb. 7…”
  • Democrats pressing Corbett to expand Medicaid, By Harold Brubaker, January 25, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “In a bid to build pressure on Gov. Corbett to expand Medicaid next year, Democratic members of the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee met Thursday in Philadelphia with city health officials, hospital experts, and advocates for the poor. The session in City Hall came less than two weeks before Corbett is to present his budget proposal for fiscal 2014. Were he to opt for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, provisions for the rollout starting in October would have to be built into that budget, officials said…”