In this edition, you’ll find articles on a new pediatric dental center opening in Seattle that aims to give more children access to dental care – a big step forward for the Seattle area, but around the state we face serious challenges to kids’ oral health. The Children’s Alliance is working on policy solutions to increase kids’ access to dental care. You’ll also read about the soda industry’s campaign to pass I-1107, which would repeal a tax on soda, and how passing the liquor initiatives would affect Washington cities.
Joel Berg, director of the new Center for Pediatric Dentistry in Magnuson Park, concedes that $21 million could buy a lot of drilling and filling — particularly for kids whose parents can't afford dental care. But Berg's after something bigger and more permanent with the new 28,000-square-foot Center for Pediatric Dentistry opening Sept. 1 at Magnuson Park. He wants to keep kids out of the dental chair — forever. And he's got a plan. Inside the facility, Berg intends to create a whole new model for the way dental care is now delivered to kids.
With its second $3.5 million check in two weeks, the American Beverage Association has topped the $10 million mark in its checkbook campaign to pass Initiative 1107 in this November's election. The initiative would repeal temporary tax increases on candy, soda pop and bottled water, enacted by the Legislature last winter as it sought to close a $2.8 billion budget deficit and not axe social services. The beverage tax is quite modest, adding two cents to every 12-ounce container. It exempts bottlers whose volume is under $10 million.
Under growing pressure to prevent a pair of domestic spending bills from increasing the national budget deficit, Congress plans to offset new spending with unprecedented cuts to future food stamp funding. These measures are expected to save $14.1 billion over ten years, but the tradeoff for families on food stamps would mean phasing out stimulus bill provisions that increased families' monthly food stamps during the recession. According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), low-income households will, for the first time, see their benefits fall from one month to the next.
Becky Pettit's latest paper strengthens a point she's made in the past about imprisonment's impact on black and Latino populations from disadvantaged neighborhoods. Pettit says we are creating an outcast group that sustains itself from generation to generation. We could fix that and lower the crime rate by improving the life prospects of disadvantaged people. At a time when dollars are short, we need to be reminded what spending gets us the most for our money. There are cheaper, more effective ways to reduce crime. Help kids get a diploma to start. Early-childhood education programs show striking results in reducing delinquency and crime.
Gov. Chris Gregoire has ordered $51 million in spending reductions for the current fiscal year for WorkFirst services, the states welfare-to-work program, which is based on the belief that everyone with abilities is needed in today's workforce, and those who can work should. The two largest reductions will come from lowering the income eligibility for Working Connections Child Care ($14.8 million) and granting fewer "hardship extensions" to WorkFirst families who reach the program’s 60-month time limit ($16.4 million). The income eligibility for child care change will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2010 and the hardship extension change will take place in February 2011.
I was very happy to read in your Aug. 10 editorial of the proposed new funding pending in the U. S. Senate that will benefit the children and families in our county's Early Head Start programs. As a member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, I'm one of thousands of law enforcement leaders across our state and country who have urged Congress to increase funding for early learning and home visiting programs.
It is worth noting when the nation’s top central banker talks about things besides interest rates and inflation, and earlier this month Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke took time to urge state policymakers to continue investing in early childhood education.
With the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), more children were covered by health insurance—some $7.4 million in 2008 (compared with 6.6 million in 2006.) But not all the newly covered children were formerly uninsured. Some 60 percent of them were likely covered by private insurance, switching to less expensive public coverage when eligibility allowed them, a phenomenon known as crowd-out. This high rate of crowd-out means that the program is not as effective as it could be in reducing the number of children without health insurance. But it also has other consequences for the families and their well-being.