House Agriculture Committee Votes to Slash SNAP
FRAC Decries House Agriculture Committee Vote to Slash SNAP
Washington, D.C. – April 18, 2012 -- The House Agriculture Committee voted today to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by more than $33 billion – a cut that spares no household from seeing its benefits reduced and that would result in millions of low-income people being forced out of the program.
Low-income people will have less money for food.
• Ending the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's boost to SNAP benefits this summer will mean reduced benefits for recipients – the maximum benefit for a household of four would fall by $57 per month through the remainder of 2012.
• The proposal to limit the state option known as "Heat and Eat" will reduce SNAP benefits for households eligible for but receiving the smallest, least adequate LIHEAP benefits. This cut would impact 4.7 million SNAP recipients.
SNAP recipients will be pushed out of the program.
• By limiting states' ability to administer the categorical eligibility option, an estimated three million SNAP recipients would lose eligibility. This cut also will take free school breakfast and lunch away from more than 280,000 low-income children, and will vastly increase state administrative costs and red tape.
"SNAP works, and today's vote to slash funding for this program is misguided, harmful, and shows complete indifference to the basic needs of 46 million Americans. When jobs disappeared and wages shrank, SNAP was there to help struggling Americans put food on the table. Today's vote places the burden of deficit reduction on the most vulnerable among us, and means less food in the refrigerator for already hungry families," said FRAC President Jim Weill. "Attempts to dismiss such cuts as 'accounting' fixes ignore the real impact such proposals have on people and their ability to purchase food."
FRAC recently released an analysis of food hardship in the mostly rural districts of members of the House Agriculture Committee, and found that food hardship is as prevalent in these districts as it is in the rest of the nation.
"Hunger is prevalent in every community in America, but SNAP has played an essential role in helping to alleviate that hunger," said Weill. "Americans also reject such cuts and recognize the importance of SNAP. Seventy-seven percent of voters said that cutting SNAP would be the wrong way to reduce government spending. Congress must oppose attempts to shred our safety net, and instead tackle hunger with the zeal that the situation – and that the public – demand."
Foreclosures Effecting 8 Million Children
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Report estimates 8 million children hurt by foreclosures
By Julie Schmit, USA TODAY
Updated 1d ago
One in 10 U.S. children has been or will be affected by the nation's surge in foreclosures, a new report says.
Five years into the foreclosure crisis, an estimated 2.3 million children have lived in homes lost to foreclosure, according to a report from First Focus, a Washington, D.C-based bipartisan advocacy group focused on families.
Another 3 million children live in homes at risk of foreclosure because home loans are in the foreclosure process or are seriously delinquent. And 3 million children lived or live in rental homes lost to foreclosure or at risk, the report says.
"Children are the often invisible victims of the foreclosure crisis," said report author Julia Isaacs. She did the study while at the Brookings Institution and is now a senior fellow at the Urban Institute's Labor, Human Services and Population Center.
Isaacs analyzed foreclosure and U.S. Census Bureau data to estimate the number of children affected. The report is the second released by First Focus on the crisis' impact on children, and the organization says it's the first to estimate the number of children affected who live in rental properties.
Not surprisingly, the impact on children is greatest in states that were hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. In Nevada, almost 1 in 5 children lived or live in owner-occupied homes that were lost to foreclosure or are at risk of being lost, Isaacs estimates.
Invest in Kids Now For the Sake of Our Future
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With Our Future on the Line, the Time to Invest in Kids Is Now
Senior Vice President for Save the Children's U.S. Programs
Our nation's economic future is uncertain; we face increasingly aggressive global competition; lagging academic achievement is dragging down economic output; and almost two-thirds of Americans think our nation is on the wrong track.
We know the bad news all too well. The good news is that America has been at these kinds of perilous moments in our past and we did what it took to emerge more prosperous and secure than before. Indeed, one of our defining qualities throughout history hasn't been an ability to avoid great national challenges, but to overcome them when they confronted us.
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that we're tackling today's economic and global competitive challenges with the same levels of determination and investment.
The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook, a new report from Rutgers University's National Institute for Early Education Research, released this week, reveals that total spending on early childhood education by all 50 states and the District of Columbia decreased nearly $60 million from 2010 to 2011, capping a ten-year decline of 15 percent during the past decade.
This may not be a cause of alarm to Americans whose only eye on the future is through the lens of GDP and unemployment statistics. But, in fact, our investment in early education is perhaps the most important economic indicator of them of all.
Preschoolers Need More Outdoor Play
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Many Preschoolers Not Getting Enough Outdoor Play
Look at outdoor activity as a daily necessity, not a weekend luxury, study says
April 2, 2012
By Alan Mozes
MONDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Roughly half of America's preschool-aged children are not getting a daily dose of parentally supervised outdoor playtime, a new study reveals.
Analyzing data on nearly 9,000 children previously collected in a long-term U.S. study, researchers found that much of the country's youth, especially young girls, aren't engaging in routine outdoor physical activities.
"One of the main points is that even though many of us may assume that young children spend some time outdoors every day, there's considerable room for improvement in how often parents take their children outside to play," said study lead author Dr. Pooja Tandon, a pediatrician and researcher with the Seattle Children's Research Institute.
"This study highlights something we already know from other studies, which is that girls in particular seem to have fewer opportunities for outdoor play than boys. We have to try to support girls in the same way we encourage boys to be active and to play outdoors," added Tandon, who is also an acting assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle.
The findings appear online April 2 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
The study authors said the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests doctors take a proactive role in encouraging routine physical activity among kids, particularly outdoor activity, which can be critical to helping children develop motor skills, as well as promoting vision and mental acuity.
The research team looked at statistics on the outdoor-activity routines of 8,950 children born in 2001 who were tracked through enrollment in kindergarten. The data were deemed to be nationally representative, reflecting the behavior of an estimated 4 million kids.
Each child's mother was interviewed regarding the frequency and nature of her child's outdoor play experience at the ages of 9 months, 2 years and 4 years, (or a year before kindergarten) and then again once enrolled in kindergarten.
Autism Rates Have Risen
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CDC: U.S. kids with autism up 78% in past decade
By Miriam Falco, CNN
updated 1:16 PM EDT, Thu March 29, 2012
CDC: Number of autistic kids increasing
(CNN) -- The number of children with autism in the United States continues to rise, according to a new report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest data estimate that 1 in 88 American children has some form of autism spectrum disorder. That's a 78% increase compared to a decade ago, according to the report.
Since 2000, the CDC has based its autism estimates on surveillance reports from its Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Every two years, researchers count how many 8-year-olds have autism in about a dozen communities across the nation. (The number of sites ranges from six to 14 over the years, depending on the available funding in a given year.)
In 2000 and 2002, the autism estimate was about 1 in 150 children. Two years later 1 in 125 8-year-olds had autism. In 2006, the number was 1 in 110, and the newest data -- from 2008 -- suggests 1 in 88 children have autism.
Read the CDC report (PDF)
Boys with autism continue to outnumber girls 5-to-1, according to the CDC report. It estimates that 1 in 54 boys in the United States have autism.
Mark Roithmayr, president of the advocacy group Autism Speaks, says more children are being diagnosed with autism because of "better diagnosis, broader diagnosis, better awareness, and roughly 50% of 'We don't know.'"
He said the numbers show there is an epidemic of autism in the United States.
Budget Cuts Hurting Most Vulnerable Families
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New Report for First Time Documents Damage of Automatic Budget Cuts on Programs that Serve Vulnerable Children and Families
Coalition on Human Needs Urges Congress to Take Balanced Approach to Reducing the Deficit and Creating Jobs
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report released today by the Coalition on Human Needs for the first time examines the impact of the automatic spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 on more than 140 programs that serve low-income and struggling families. Self-Inflicted Wounds: Protecting Families and Our Economy from Bad Budget Choices, finds that the automatic budget cuts will severely damage human needs programs ranging from education to nutrition to job training.
With budget proposals from President Obama and the U.S. House of Representatives now on the table, these findings shed light on the consequences of the automatic cuts, which will go into effect in January 2013 unless Congress chooses another path. The report also concludes that the House leadership budget proposal, introduced last week, would go even further, cutting so deeply into domestic appropriations and restructuring programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps so dramatically, that over several decades most federal services would shrink down to almost nothing.
"This is no time for the country to turn its back on the millions of Americans whose lives were upended by the longest and deepest recession of the last 60 years" said Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs. "Instead of relying solely on spending cuts to reduce the deficit, Congress must take a balanced approach that includes new revenues and creates more jobs."
The report notes that these cuts would come after years of declining funds for programs aimed at vulnerable households and would grow even more severe during the next decade. It finds that under the automatic cuts, even by the most conservative estimates:
• 75,000 children would not be able to receive Head Start services
• 25,000 children could not attend safe and educational child care, putting an enormous burden on low-income working parents
• 17,000 seniors would no longer receive Meals on Wheels or be able to eat at centers
• 2,300 health research efforts would end prematurely or never begin
• 670,000 people would not receive job training
Early Childhood and Technology
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Shifting the Conversation on Early Childhood and Technology
Posted: 03/27/2012 4:25 pm
For over a decade the debates and discussions about technology and young children have been driven by policy and statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics. They continue to urge that children under the age of two years have limited access to television or screen based entertainment. This is a very reasonable and appropriate statement, though the media are often reporting the 1999 policy as claiming children under two have no access to screens.
The idea of limiting children's screentime is based on the knowledge, experience and research of people who have dedicated their lives to the health and well-being of young children. It has served us well, but also is limiting in that it has influenced broader discussion and exploration of the value of digital media for all children by placing negative perspectives on digital media that align with other important and well reported issues like video game violence and children accessing inappropriate content online. These perspectives fail to acknowledge the context of the world in which children grow up and have focused the discussions about children's use of technology solely on the potential negative impact, rather than allowing us to explore how we support children to learn and develop in our increasingly technological world.
All that said, we are beginning to see the debate and discussion change.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Fred Rogers Center (FRC) have just release a joint statement on "Technology and interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8." This document has been through extensive consultation and drafting for more than a year and it encompasses the perspectives, experience and research of people who work and engage with children every day in holistic contexts of early childhood development and learning. It is a much needed document in the early childhood and technology policy space because it does not shy away from the key fact that we all are increasingly aware of: young children are engaging with technology.
Microsoft helping with Youth Unemployment
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Microsoft Spotlights Opportunity Divide For Youth
New report from the International Youth Foundation outlines actions to better prepare the 1.2 billion global youth entering the 21st century workforce.
REDMOND, Wash., March 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Microsoft Corp. today announced a commissioned report from the International Youth Foundation, Opportunity for Action, which documents the growing economic and social challenges facing youth around the world and the urgent need to provide the education, skills and employment opportunities required for them to succeed in today's rapidly changing global economy.
The report underlines the emergence of an opportunity divide among young people worldwide. On a global basis, the unemployment rate for youth is currently 12.7 percent, or more than double the six percent global average for unemployment as a whole. While some youth are prospering, many others who lack access to education, skills and opportunities face growing challenges. As the global youth population of 1.2 billion — the largest in history — grows over time, the gap risks widening even further between those with opportunity and those without.
The Opportunity for Action report documents the nearly 75 million young people, globally, who are unemployed and the varying causes for rising youth unemployment in different parts of the world. As the report shows, currently only 44 percent of youth worldwide pursue education as far as the equivalent of the high school level in the United States, and even fewer complete secondary education. This is especially concerning given the increase in jobs globally requiring higher levels of skill and education. In the United States, for example, it is estimated that by 2018, 62 percent of the workforce will require some college education, yet today 16 percent of American youth ages 18-24 fail even to complete high school.
Affordable Care Act Anniversay Week and Supreme Court Hearings
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Publicity Push as Health Law's Court Date Nears
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER and ROBERT PEAR
Published: March 19, 2012
WASHINGTON — Republicans on Capitol Hill have put together a highly coordinated two-week renewed assault on the health care law, seizing on the legislation's second anniversary and the next week's oral arguments before the Supreme Court concerning its constitutionality.
On Monday, Congressional Republicans took to the floor of both chambers to denounce the law, presaging a vote in the House this week to dismantle the law's payment advisory board, the 26th legislative attack on the law in the Republican-controlled House in the 112th Congress.
Daily news conferences are planned on the Hill next week, featuring state attorneys general, lawmakers who are physicians and others.
Republican members are also holding sessions on Twitter, making videos and scheduling television interviews day and night, with one veteran lawmaker, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, appearing on Fox News on Monday.
On the Senate floor on Monday, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said, "The reason I ran for the United States Senate was primarily because of this law." Outside groups like the National Federation of Independent Business and Americans for Tax Reform are joining the efforts. Roughly 50 events are planned this week alone by party leaders and members.
Children and the ACA
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A Healthy Start: Protecting Great Gains for Children in the Affordable Care Act
Posted: 03/16/2012 4:35 pm
Since our founding almost forty years ago, the Children's Defense Fund has fought to ensure that all children in America receive the healthy start they need and deserve. Next week marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal health reform legislation, which has been a giant national step forward in reaching that goal. Although not yet fully implemented, millions of children have already benefited and millions more will be helped as additional benefits take effect in 2014. But these gains and a number of Medicaid protections that millions of Americans rely on could all be erased by challenges to the ACA and Medicaid in the U.S. Supreme Court this month. Some health reform opponents seek to undo decades of progress which would have far-reaching impact on children and an especially devastating impact on children of color.
The ACA protects and strengthens Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which have been lifelines to millions of children and their families especially in the current recession. In the last year more than 1.5 million children gained health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP, bringing the number of uninsured children in America -- still far too high -- to the lowest on record even before many of the benefits of the new law kick in. Under the ACA, Medicaid will see the largest expansion in 2014 since its creation in 1965, and Americans with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid coverage. This is crucial because before the ACA's enactment, Medicaid wasn't a guaranteed safety net available for everyone who fell on really hard times.