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In this edition, the newest state Senate budget proposal inspires a Tri-City food bank director, a Spokane mother, and two senators from King County to speak up for State Food Assistance funding. A new analysis shows that kids make up 70 percent of Washingtonians receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In national news, the Affordable Care Act will expand children’s coverage in 2014 after bringing the number of uninsured U.S. children down to its record low.
John Neill, executive director for the Tri-Cities Food Bank, told the Herald he attributes the recent increase in need for food assistance to layoffs, scarce jobs and rising gas prices, rent and tuition. "There are so many factors influencing the number of people we're seeing," he said. And now lawmakers could add to the list by eliminating the state-funded Food Assistance Program in July, through a budget proposal written by Sen. Joseph Zarelli, R-Ridgefield…. [A]ny cut to food aid programs will bring more hungry families to food banks that already are struggling to keep up on supplies, Neill said.
Without the resources provided by TANF, low income children are more likely to go hungry, become homeless, and have poor health outcomes. Is this the kind of state we want? Deeper cuts to TANF will disproportionately hurt kids and is the wrong approach to close our budget gap. Seven of every 10 TANF recipients are children.
Washington added a fundamental piece to its early learning system today by releasing a new set of guidelines that will help parents and educators understand the basic milestones their children should meet during their first eight years.
The Times’ claim that the state Senate budget is “more responsible” than the House version is incorrect. [“No more foot-dragging on the state budget,” Opinion, March 18.] By slashing funds for health care needed by tens of thousands, the Senate budget would send more people to emergency rooms for care, which ultimately drives up costs for everyone. The House budget avoids this approach while aligning with the federal Affordable Care Act’s path toward quality, affordable health care for all. Two years ago this week, President Obama signed this historic act into law, improving access to health care for all Americans by reforming a part of our economy that is broken.
Most of the cuts in the Republican budget directly impact women or children, slashing services for families seeking employment and eliminating food assistance for hungry kids. This is what Republican leaders call protecting the vulnerable?
Letter: Keep state food assistance | The Spokesman-Review | 03-15-2012
The state created SFA more than 10 years ago, and it was a move we can all be proud of. No child, no matter where their parents come from, should go to bed hungry. SFA helps many families, including some Marshallese residents. Now, some lawmakers are trying to eliminate the program and take food off the table for 12,500 kids in our state. Doing so would pull the anti-hunger safety net out from under many members of Spokane’s Marshallese community. My husband and my daughter are from Micronesia, and this law will affect our family.
[Eliminating the State Food Assistance program] will directly hurt 31,000 individuals, including 12,500 children. It will also hurt tens of thousands more people who don’t receive benefits but do rely on food programs…. Northwest Harvest’s partner programs are already serving 40 percent more people than before the recession. The need keeps rising, yet many nonprofit programs are seeing dwindling food donations. Some agencies have closed due to a lack of food. Nonprofits can do a lot, but we can’t do it all and we can’t do it alone. Please join us in urging our Legislature to protect families from hunger by protecting the state Food Assistance Program.
Instead of making drastic cuts to Working Connections Child Care, [the House budget] expands benefits to cover families making less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. That means more families working and paying taxes and fewer families dependent on welfare. Why would anyone pass a budget that puts more people out of work and on welfare? The Senate budget hurts children, it hurts working families and it hurts our economy.
The report provides clear evidence that a failure to provide dental care is incredibly expensive. One study shows that treating 330,000 decay-related cases in ERs costs nearly $110 million. This avoidable expense increases the financial burden on taxpayers, including those in states that are already facing budget major shortfalls. In Washington, the problem is widespread and costly.
The Affordable Care Act (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…. 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. The ACA is especially important for children of color, soon to be the majority of children in America, who constitute more than half of all children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP.