In this edition, you’ll read about how state budget cuts all over the country are threatening child welfare services, such as home-visiting programs (strongly supported by the Children’s Alliance) that have a proven track record of lowering rates of child abuse and neglect, and improving kids’ chances of succeeding in school and life. You’ll also read about progress the Obama administration is making toward extending federal health care assistance to states.
Well more than 1,000 children die in the U.S. each year from
abuse and neglect. Hundreds of thousands more are affected. And a
flagging economy hasn't helped. States facing big deficits are cutting
programs to prevent abuse and protect children. This comes at a time
when many on the front lines say they're seeing a growing need.
Nationwide, cuts to programs, including those targeting
at-risk parents with low incomes, substance abuse problems or other
issues that make parenting especially difficult, have children's
advocates worried about the fate of programs intended to prevent kids
from being neglected and abused, at a time when people on the front
lines say demand for such services is growing.
The pressure to extend the temporary increase in the federal
medical assistance percentage (FMAP) for Medicaid included in last
year's stimulus bill is building. Widely credited with helping states
through one of the worst fiscal crises on record, the provision also
has been vital in stabilizing Medicaid coverage for children and others
in families facing job loss.
A new bill setting broad parameters for the state’s
welfare-to-work program passed the Senate yesterday, 27-20, with a key
measure restored. The Senate Ways and Means Committee re-inserted the Working Connections bill’s initial
12-month provision. Working Connections is facing another challenge in
the House, where $30 million of Gov. Gregoire’s initial $49 million
reduction still holds. Advocates and officials have said that the loss
could send the working poor to a waiting list, and Rep. Mary Helen
Roberts (D-Edmonds) has proposed restoring the funding.
The biggest difference between the House, Senate, and
Governor’s budget proposals isn’t over what to tax and what to spend
money on. It’s over how much money the state actually has to spend.
While the House is proposing to spend roughly $200 million more than
the Senate, it is proposing to raise less revenue ($758 million to the
Senate’s $918 million). How would the House make up the difference?
Two weeks ago, Governor Gregoire released a revenue proposal
that includes new taxes on bottled water and carbonated beverages.
These taxes would generate about $230 million in badly needed resources
The new law would prohibit prison and jail staff from
shackling a female inmate in her third trimester of pregnancy. The only
exceptions would be if she posed a flight risk or a danger to herself
or others. During childbirth no restraints would be allowed unless
ordered by a doctor.
Childhood overweight and obesity rates seem to be leveling off
for all but a few subgroups, a new study released this week says.
Low-income, minority and publicly-insured children and teens keep
getting fatter and their health risks continue to increase, said Lisa
Simpson, director of the Child Policy Research Center at Cincinnati
Children's Hospital Medical Center. She is a co-author of the report,
published in the current edition of "Health Affairs."