It’s the worst we’ve seen.
That’s our assessment of new cuts to state services. The across-the-board budget reductions are more severe than anything we’ve experienced recently. They’re also being made in an extremely challenging context.
The budget that was finalized this spring, during the last legislative session, did not anticipate the persistently slow economy. And, rather than our elected representatives deliberating in public over cuts, these decisions are being made by the Governor in consultation with agency secretaries and assistant secretaries. They are decisions as momentous as any made during the last legislative session, only without legislators convening to hear and represent their constituents’ concerns.
The federal government has finally released the guidelines states need to apply for their slice of $1.5 billion in new grant funding for home visiting programs, which connect new and expectant parents with trained nursing and early learning professionals.
The new guidelines issued late last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow Washington to apply for up to $1.3 million this year.
The first wave of these grants, part of federal health care reform that became law in March, will go to states this summer.
Over the next few weeks and months, we and our allies on the Washington Home Visiting Coalition will be working with state agencies and stakeholders on a plan for how Washington will use these home visiting funds.
Bremerton mother Natasha Fecteau has been learning how to make a difference for kids for several years. This year, she put her learning to work to a far greater extent than before.
Natasha believes child care ought to be within financial reach of parents who are struggling to earn a living. That’s why, when the Children’s Alliance issued a call this year for budget action to protect early learning and stable care for kids, she spoke up for Working Connections Child Care.
She believes timely, preventive oral health care ought to be available for kids and their families. So when Children’s Alliance pushed this year for the creation and authorization of dental therapists, she spoke up about her own arduous experience trying to find a dental professional she could afford.
One out of every 14 children in Washington state has at least one parent who is or has been incarcerated. These 109,000 kids’ counterparts nationwide total 5.1 million—a conservative estimate, according to a new KIDS COUNT report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The number of children affected by incarceration in Washington is 6.5 times greater than the number of inmates in the state’s 12 correctional centers. The needs of these children, as they face increased risks and significant obstacles in life, are often overlooked. Research shows that having a parent imprisoned can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence.
According to the report, the number of children with a father in prison nearly doubled between 1991 and 2007, and those with a mother behind bars more than doubled. Compared with their White peers, Black and Latino kids are seven and three times more likely, respectively, to have a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives.
The Children’s Alliance has endorsed Initiative 1433 for a higher minimum wage and paid sick leave all across the state of Washington.
Why YES on 1433? Here’s why.
Children’s Alliance staff, volunteers and community partners recently re-imagined the future of our work to end childhood hunger. Among our conclusions were these: One way to fight hunger broadly, as well as improve the health, well-being and learning of Washington’s kids, is by erasing disparities across race and ethnicity. And, good jobs are a great way to end hunger.
Higher wages and access to paid sick leave stabilize families and help kids grow up healthy and strong. Approximately 1 in 5 children in our state live in poverty and face long-term barriers to success in school and in life. As this chart shows, Washington’s children of color are more likely to experience poverty than are White children. That’s because the adults in their households have fewer opportunities to work in the good jobs with benefits that are the cornerstone of American prosperity.
Better wages and access to paid sick leave stabilize families and help kids grow up healthy and strong. One in five children in our state live in poverty and face long-term barriers to success in school and in life. Family-friendly workplace policies move us closer to ending childhood hunger and poverty. When crafted well, such policies are also a step toward racial equity, as people of color disproportionately hold low-wage jobs without paid leave benefits.
Parents, advocates and community leaders during this 2016 legislative session have advocated for greater investments in access to early learning for kids ages birth to 5 and their families. We’ve done it before: last year, the Early Start Act came with the largest investment in early learning in our state’s history. This historic achievement is improving early childhood education for more than 70,000 Washington children.
But the legislature is poised to undermine this progress.
Governor Inslee’s Executive Order re: State Blue Ribbon Commission on the Delivery of Services to Children and Families
Statement from Children’s Alliance, Feb. 18, 2016
Any structural change in the state of Washington’s service delivery for children should be guided by what’s best for kids. And, when not all kids are faring well, our attention and resources should prioritize the most vulnerable. Data about child outcomes in our state show wide disparities in economic security, educational, and health outcomes by family income and race and ethnicity.
The Dental Access Bill, Senate Bill 5465, had a public hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee on Monday, January 25, with members of the Washington Dental Access Campaign (WDAC)—representing the interests of children, elders, rural constituents, dental professionals and advocates for low-income people and communities of color—signing in PRO. Here are a few highlights from the testimony:
Dr. Kevin Nakagaki, DDS, has worked with dental therapists since they were first licensed to practice in Minnesota in 2011.
“Patients are very accepting of the Dental Therapist, as they are very familiar with the medical model of physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
“In my clinic, after hiring dental therapists, access for my population has increased, and the wait time to be seen has decreased by half. As I have shifted the straightforward dental restorations to the dental therapist, it has freed up my time to concentrate on more complex procedures.
“The dental therapists are very well trained to manage the pediatric population, and the patients (and parents) have been very satisfied-extremely satisfied with their care.
“As the dentists have had the opportunity to work with the therapists, they have found the concept safe, workable, desirable, and have begun requesting new hires for their offices.”
—Dr. Kevin Nakagaki, DDS, Minneapolis
Lawmakers took a big step forward for kids last year with the passage and funding of the Early Start Act. This year, we can’t afford to let them take a big step backward.
Legislators are opening the first week of the 2016 session with a close look at Governor Inslee’s proposed supplemental budget. Here’s one item that kids, working parents and employers need them to pay attention to.