In this edition, one child advocate reminds lawmakers to consult their Washington values to protect food assistance for 12,500 hungry families in the state, and a mother from Kent shares how Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) brought her family out of homelessness into self-sufficiency. In national news, food stamps fight both hunger and poverty, and the Obama Administration releases its final rule on state health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Denying the Marshallese access to food assistance, when they are obeying the rules set by the United States in the “compact of free association” we signed as an acknowledgement of the environmental and human cost of nuclear testing in the 1940s and 1950s, would add another sad chapter to U.S.-Marshall Islands relations. The values held by our governor and Legislature in 1997 – that immigrants played a positive and significant role in our state’s economy and in the vibrancy of our people – were the right values then, and they are the right values now. I strongly urge the Washington Legislature to uphold these values now.
Being on the TANF program has allowed me to attend college, where I will be graduating with honors this spring. I believe this education is critical to getting a better-paying job, gaining full self-sufficiency and keeping my family from reverting back to dependence on the system. Without the additional support services that are offered with the TANF program, including child care, food stamps and medical coverage, none of this would be possible … . Please ask lawmakers to protect this critical public assistance that supports thousands of families like my own in overcoming the barriers of poverty.
The state’s budget ultimately translates into real public policy—and it’s not sustainable to skimp on education for kids and social services for the vulnerable.
Back in November, [Gov.] Gregoire herself recommended about $282 million in closing loopholes and new taxes including closing the bank loophole, repealing the sales tax exemption on out-of-state shoppers, closing a tax loophole for Washington companies that create out-of-state shell companies, increasing the cigarette tax, and taxing oil and financial companies windfall profits. All of the ideas would take a two-thirds majority, which is certainly doable in a preordained bipartisan budget deal.
In Whatcom County, cuts have reduced or eliminated public health services including tobacco prevention, oral health, WIC nutrition, communicable disease, and children's services…. Within the next week, legislators will make final decisions on public health funding. State funding cuts shift responsibility for paying for public health services to cities and counties.
People are hurting throughout King County, and the Eastside is no exception. By any measure, the most vulnerable community members are now being joined by those who were previously in the middle income strata and who were once donors and volunteers. The poverty rate is increasing, more families are finding themselves homeless, and the programs that used to provide a steady source of food, emergency assistance and medical care are being forced to turn increasing numbers of our neighbors away.
There are some functions that become more critical than ever during times of crisis, and the role of the watchdog is paramount. By failing to retain funding for The Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman (OFCO), we are essentially deprioritizing the health and safety of our state's most vulnerable children and families … does it make the most sense to save upward of $368,000 — a relatively small amount, yet critical to the continued ability of OFCO to protect our state's children and families against continued abuse, neglect and trauma? I urge leaders representing all proposals to negotiate a final budget that preserves OFCO's capacity to protect Washington families and kids.
In Washington, the legislature finished its official session on Friday, except for the small issue of passing a new budget, and it took several important steps to advance the state’s Race to the Top early learning plan. In one of the bigger steps, legislators passed core competencies for early learning educators, the Department of Early Learning reports.
“Your food is your fuel, it’s your power, it’s your everything. If you don’t have food, you can’t survive.” Those are the words of Yolanda Prim, a principal at Robert Morehead Middle School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. … Despite the fact that 91% of her students qualified for free and reduced-price meals, including breakfast, she found that the cafeteria was unusually empty in the mornings…. Regardless of their reason for not participating, most of these students were coming to school too hungry to learn.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final rule on state health insurance exchanges Monday, setting the framework under which states develop their online marketplaces.
While the stories that we hear from these families show the importance of our nation’s safety net, it’s important not to forget the underlying issue of chronic poverty that existed before the recession and that, without action, will continue into the future. … To truly end hunger and poverty, we must first offer families the chance to afford boots and bootstraps. Poverty does not have to be a chronic condition, and Federal safety-net programs are critical in this regard. Families on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) can worry less about putting food on the table and focus more on finding jobs and educational opportunities.