In this edition, a late night Senate vote on the state budget puts child care and food assistance at risk for thousands of vulnerable families. Meanwhile, the “Go for the Gold” school breakfast campaign kicks off during National School Breakfast Week to promote better student health and performance in Seattle Public Schools, and in Spokane, a growing Marshallese community that prioritizes education is at risk of losing the anti-hunger program that supports their children’s success. One in four Washington children’s first “dental visit” is a trip to the emergency room, and in national news, it’s one in four that belong to families who struggle to pay their health care bills, even as health coverage improves for children overall.
Friday night’s takeover of the state Senate gives pundits much to ponder. Who gained at whose expense? What happens now? But while the dust settles on a potentially deadlocked legislature, one fact is clear. The children of Washington got trampled when a group of Senators conspired to ram through the entire state education, health care, and social services budget without even a nod to public input.
Last week, with the help of three democrats, Senate Republicans passed and moved a budget off the floor that calls for $202 million dollars in cuts from Working Connections Child Care, a program that helps low income working families with daycare expenses. The proposed cuts would affect approximately four thousand families, and that's why on Wednesday, hundreds of parents, teachers and children advocates protested the proposed cuts on the steps of the capitol.
I personally know that food assistance programs contribute greatly to the well-being of families. Without food assistance, families might not be able to afford their rent or other necessary payments they need to make.
Women and children first?
The recently passed Senate budget solves the $1 billion shortfall largely through cuts that will impact families, individuals and communities across the state. Approximately 45 percent of the cuts directly impact women and children, stripping away services that keep mothers healthy through pregnancy, eliminating food assistance for hungry kids, and halting assistance for families seeking employment.
Recognizing the link between a healthy breakfast and academic performance the Seattle Public Schools kicked off their ‘Go for Gold’ breakfast campaign at West Seattle Elementary School Mar. 5 with the appearance of the “Bee Healthy” Bee. The effort extends from elementary through high school. The SPS Nutrition Services Department has partnered with Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Children’s Alliance to promote the consumption of school breakfast. Children who eat breakfast daily do better on standardized tests, get better grades, are able to concentrate in school, can more easily complete complex tasks and are more able to maintain a healthy weight.
Across the region companies, churches, schools and other organizations are making the same discovery, that people from the Marshall Islands are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in Spokane County. … Hillyard and northeast Spokane have the largest concentration of Marshallese residents, judging by school enrollment. … A major event in their culture is the kemmem – a huge party that marks a child’s first birthday. … Leke Ankien, 36, attended a recent Spokane kemmem at the East Central Community Center. … Ankien, who lived in Spokane until taking a new job in the Tri-Cities in December, said the kemmem celebrates the three main cultural values of the Marshallese. “First is education. We want our children to be educated,” he said.
The combination of economic recession and a flawed tax system in our state caused deep and painful cuts to vital services, leading to a declining quality of life for the majority of Washington families. Four years of devastating economic hardship and over $10 billion in cuts to state services have threatened our economic recovery and the very things that we love about living in Washington. It doesn’t have to be this way. But to turn things around, we must reform our tax system, which will allow us to create a better life for all of us by investing in our state’s economy and future. We need both short- and long-term solutions, and we need people to stand up for what is right.
Calling for more cuts to children and families is the epitome of a short-term fix. … While things are getting better, demand for services have not gone down. … In the child-care industry, in which I am a part of, we see every day the impact that quality care has on families. Supporting children and their families in their everyday lives helps to close the opportunity gaps that plague children in our educational systems today.
Thousands of poor, immigrant families in Washington could soon face cuts in the food aid they receive, after a federal appeals court cleared the way Wednesday for lawmakers to reduce or eliminate the program. … Budget proposals in the House and Senate would direct about $8 million a year to the program … said Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children's Alliance, which urged the Legislature to maintain the program. "These are very low-income families, below the poverty line," Gould said. "These families, who struggle to put enough food on the table, now no longer have the legal protection that was preventing their children from going hungry." He argued that cutting their assistance could be especially troubling as gas prices rise and other costs of living remain high.
Washington: A trip to the ER was the first "dental visit" for one in four children overall and for roughly half the children younger than 3 -and a-half years old. More than 50 hospitals found that during an 18-month period between 2008 and 2009, residents made more than 23,000 visits to ERs for toothaches or other dental problems. Among the uninsured, patients with dental disorders were the most frequent ER visitors.
The data, released Wednesday by the government researchers, found that about 24 percent of children ages 17 and under are living in a family that has had trouble paying their medical bills in the past year.
Access to nutritious foods is more difficult for anyone living in poverty, but this barrier to a healthy lifestyle is magnified among American Indian and Alaskan Native populations. In 2010, more than 24 percent of AI/AN households were below the federal poverty line, compared to 15 percent of the U.S. population as a whole. Limited funds mean limited access to nutritious foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables or whole grain carbohydrates, which are often more expensive than commodity goods like flour or shortening. "The bottom line is poverty," confirms Kahti DeWilde, licensed nutritionist and director of the WIC program for the S'Klallam tribe in Port Gamble, WA. "It's lacking the funds to be able to spend money on appropriate foods."
For congressmen and senators who might follow the lead of those who would make SNAP benefits harder to access, The Snap Vaccine by Children’s HealthWatch (CHW) … should give them pause. … “Food insecurity is associated with stunted growth, decreased bone mass, slower learning in childhood, obesity, pregnancy complications, out of control diabetes in adults, and decreased ability to fight infections at any age,” says CHW founder and principal investigator Dr. Deborah Frank. “The SNAP Vaccine is about treatment—good treatment that’s even better at higher doses.” CHW analyzed data on more than 17,000 young children whose parents sought care for them in an emergency room or pediatric clinic between 2004 and 2010. …The children who received benefits were less likely to be at risk of being underweight or having developmental delays, and more likely to be living in food secure families. The results were even more telling in young children of immigrants.
To mark the one-year anniversary of CHIP reauthorization in February 2010, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge, a five-year campaign that challenges a broad range of stakeholders to step up efforts to get the nation's five million eligible but uncovered children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. The passage of the Affordable Care Act just a month after the Secretary's Challenge added to the momentum by offering a 90 percent federal match to help states develop new or improve existing Medicaid eligibility and enrollment systems. … Healthy public programs that invest in affordable children's coverage deliver a positive return on investment. States that work to make Medicaid and CHIP function cost-effectively see more federal dollars flowing into their programs and communities, health providers and schools.