State Capitol, Olympia
This event is free and lunch is provided.
The newly released Kids Count Databook on child-wellbeing shows that economic hardship has pulled 65,000 of Washington’s kids into poverty since the beginning of the recession. While on-time graduation rates and test scores dropped during this time, children’s health coverage improved remarkably. In national news, a long waiting list for child care demands that we invest in our children instead of giving tax breaks to the richest 2 percent. One education analyst asserts that meeting the needs of children means a sharper focus on racial equity in child policymaking and practices.
National annual rankings of child well-being were released today, and Washington ranks 18th overall. Notably, we've slipped in economic well-being and education, while child health is improving.
Obamacare is no miracle drug for minority Americans | Crosscut.com | 07-27-2012
“Unfortunately, recent immigrants will see limited benefits from the Affordable Care Act,” said Teresita Batayola, chief executive officer of the International Community Health Services. “Those who are here legally have to be here for five years to benefit from Medicaid programs unless they are pregnant women and children.”
Washington is far ahead of most other states in implementing one of the critical elements of the ACA: the Health Benefit Exchange. It got an early start in developing the online marketplace where individuals and businesses will be able to comparison shop for a variety of health plans. “We’re called a pace car state, which I kind of like,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, noting that only five other states have made as much progress as Washington in establishing an exchange and meeting federal deadlines to receive millions in subsidies.
Planned federal budget cuts could hurt low-income families who count on programs like Head Start to give their children a shot. Around 80,000 slots for children could disappear by next year, and 30,000 teachers and staff could be out of work.
Dr. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, gave a video keynote speech to 3,200 community and youth leaders attending the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati—not on the details of national fiscal policy, but on the crucial importance of effective early childhood supports and public education to the success of our economy. His remarks were strongly reinforced by a very distinguished panel of leading scholars, educators and education activists who spoke about the national imperative of preparing all children for school and building a public education system that prepares all children and our nation for the future.
Federal and state policies can have disproportionate impacts on poor and minority communities. In early childhood, this means implementing policies that promote culturally responsive practices, appropriate teaching, assessment strategies for children whose home language is not English, and ensuring that all early care and education providers are prepared to meet the needs of all children. Racial and ethnic disparities will not be eliminated without recognition of the differences that exist and targeted responses to improve the quality of early childhood policies and practices for diverse communities.
With the help of temporary cash assistance and a child care subsidy through the Child Care Development Block Grant, Rita was able to attend classes to develop work skills and go on interviews to secure a job. As Rita says, it was hard work, but it paid off. She is now a child care case worker in Maryland who helps other parents who were in her shoes, and her daughter is thriving. … There are almost 19,000 children on the waiting list for child care assistance in Maryland, and all those children have a parent who wants to work or go to school. … It doesn’t have to be this way. … The Senate made good progress yesterday when they voted to end tax breaks for the richest two percent of Americans, but too many policymakers still want to the most vulnerable Americans to give up their health care, child care, and nutrition aid to shrink the deficit – even though they’re willing to spend $1 trillion over 10 years to give more tax breaks to the richest two percent.
The report finds that New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts perform best overall, while Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico bring up the rear. The situation has deteriorated since the recession, with 2.4 million children falling into poverty between 2005 and 2010. I can’t hope to adequately summarize all of the report’s findings, but they all drive home the human ramifications of public policy. For example, it finds that many states have many more people eligible for food stamps than are taking advantage of them.