Child Welfare in the 21st Century

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Archive for the ‘News and politics’ Category


Posted by lboyd544 on December 16, 2012

The looming “fiscal cliff” will result in automatic tax increases and spending cuts unless a deal is reached before year’s end. To not come to some resolution will do profound harm to Oklahoma’s children.

Nearly one-quarter of Oklahoma’s children live in poverty.  About two-thirds relied on either Medicaid or food stamps during 2011. The Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Unemployment Insurance and food stamps prevented thousands more Oklahoma families from falling further into poverty last year. Yet the automatic budget cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 1 would devastate these programs.

A single mother raising two kids in Oklahoma on a full-time minimum wage salary currently gets a $7,000 tax credit check thanks to the Earned Income and Child tax credit.  That check could disappear.  The additional burden would be equivalent to a $3.50 per hour pay cut.

Republican Congressman Tom Cole recently strayed from the position of House leadership when he said in a private meeting that we should lock in tax cuts for the middle class now and postpone fighting over tax increases for higher-income earners until later. Representative Cole should be applauded for being part of a serious discussion about a critical issue.

As important as it is to avoid the fiscal cliff, we must also make sure that any deal doesn’t ultimately do as much damage as the automatic cuts. The solution is a balanced approach that includes new revenue and spending cuts – as has been endorsed by at least two bipartisan deficit reduction commissions.

Several core principles should be reflected in any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.  First, it must not exacerbate either poverty or income inequality.

Any deal must also eliminate the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans.  According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would account for nearly half the projected growth in the nation’s debt for the foreseeable future.

There should be no harmful changes to the Medicaid and food stamp programs that are the safety net preventing even more Oklahoma children from living in poverty.

Congress should also be careful not to simply shift burdens to the states. Additional cuts should take into account the $1.5 trillion in reductions to non-defense discretionary spending that have already been made.

The fiscal cliff represents a monumental challenge for our nation, and spending cuts must be part of the solution.  But we must avoid cuts that will save a little now only to cost us far more in social, public safety, corrections, and education costs later.  We must be even more careful not to solve our fiscal problems on the backs of defenseless children who did nothing to cause the problems we confront today. We will need them healthy and well-educated to lead our country for many years to come and confront the long lingering challenges of getting the federal budget under control.


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“Pausing” is a Good Thing

Posted by lboyd544 on November 13, 2012

As of today, our nation is one week past election day. I was anxious to post last Wednesday. Had I done so, I would have pleaded with Americans to pull together and to respect and utilize our differences, not our wins or losses.  The urge to post continued and had I done so late in the week, I would have commented on the emerging skepticism that the initial kumbaya moment of national Party leaders was all but done. Had I posted on Sunday, I would have urged President Obama, yes our President whose office we must respect regardless of political affiliation, to lead with strength of conviction and clarity of purpose and not be mired in the thicket of political posturing by those who already are protecting themselves in the next election cycle.
I am glad I paused.
Indeed, each of the potential postings I did not write had merit, in my opinion. Then the sea wave of ‘urgency’ and robust media attention gravitated to the personal indiscretions of General Petraeus and as of today, potentially, General John Allen.
Again, I am glad I paused. President Obama will not be President four years from now; news mongers will latch on to the next soap opera by next week (if not sooner!); our elected leaders will confront the Fiscal Cliff in a bipartisan manner.
The most meaningful outcomes of last week’s elections will not be lost on whim or news cycles. For those of us who ever doubted, the people have spoken and have proven the honor to be trusted. The United States has changed (or returned to its founding principles depending on your point of view)! Minorities will have a place and a voice in America whether identified by ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, or ability/disability. Health care reform is underway. Voters do care and will turn out to make their votes count. Polling, robocalls, and to an astonishing – and welcomed – degree, money cannot buy elections. Parties are confronted to address their principles, not their talking heads. The greatness of America as the land of opportunity and diversity is reclaimed by the voters!
As a child growing up in North Carolina, I never expected society to confront the evils of tobacco nor the injustice of segregation. Eventually the people prevailed more powerful than the lobbyist and the partisan politician . Today the Hispanic child, the gay child, are the child of illegal immigrant families are surely wondering if America will be a place that addresses their circumstances fairly and legally. It is with confidence – from our voices and our votes last week – that I am know the answer is ‘yes’. America is strong and will remain so when the people speak.

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The ACA is upheld in its entirety. Huge win for children!

Posted by lboyd544 on June 28, 2012

Given that the law is now upheld there are major wins for children!
No change to Pre-existing Coverage Exclusions for Children – Insurance companies can not deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, giving their families protection if their children need extensive care.

No Reduction in Coverage Through the Children’s Health Insurance Program –  Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that was extended through September 30, 2015 to provide states with additional funding ensures children have access to this successful program.

Continuation of Pediatric Benefit Package that Includes Oral and Vision Coverage for All Children – The law requires coverage of not only basic pediatric services under all new health plans, but also oral and vision needs, starting in 2014. Many health plans do not provide coverage for needed child health services, and 12 percent of children have not had a doctor’s visit in the past year.

· Continuation of the Effort to Improve Quality of Care for Children – The law develops children’s quality priorities and promotes children’s quality measurement and reporting to improve care. A recent study found that children receive recommended care less than half of the time.

· Coverage to Families without Employer-Based Care – The law provides health insurance choices through state-based health insurance Exchanges to families without job-based coverage and provides tax credits to those who can’t afford it. Expanding insurance to all children will enable them to access needed care, which is proven to enhance their development and learning, laying the foundation for a healthy life. Children who are uninsured have decreased access to well-child care, immunizations, basic dental services, and prescription medication.

· No Lifetime Caps on Coverage – The law ends all lifetime limits on how much insurance companies cover if beneficiaries get sick, and bans insurance companies from coverage when they get sick. The Act also restricts the use of annual limits in all new plans, and existing employer plans this year, until 2014 when all annual limits for these plans are prohibited. Two-thirds of middle class families with access to employer-based coverage said their child remained uninsured because they could not afford the health plan.

·  Extension of Coverage up to the Age of 26 – The law allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26. Millions of young adults continue to have coverage as a result of this law.

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I am angry….and scared.

Posted by lboyd544 on September 22, 2011

Many of you read the new poverty statistics released last week both nationally and for each state.
“A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the organization that studies the state of children throughout the world, found that the child poverty rate has jumped 18 percent from 2000 to 2009. Other reports now show that 49 percent of the nation’s children are growing up in families who qualify for help from the Women, Infants and Children program.”

In Oklahoma alone, 60% of the babies born in 2010 were born on Medicaid! Almost 20% of the state population has NO insurance. 1 in 3 children grow up in homes of parents under age 30 who are below the federal level of poverty.

And we worry about education, obesity, taxes (68% of Oklahomans want taxes lowered by the Legislature in 2012 even if it means FEWER government services)! If you have read my prior blogs, you know I have been focusing on some of these issues as well.

Clearly, I, too, have missed the boat!  How can we worry about obesity when all families can afford is mac-and-cheese. Even those of us supporting church and community food pantries are personally limited to high carb and high calorie donations.  I’ve worried about the quality of education offered our children or families that don’t get their kids to school and help with homework. What about the child who simply can’t learn because hunger and worry about his/her family’s hunger keeps him occupied mentally and emotionally elsewhere!

The national “talk” is about how the next generation could be strapped with huge national debt, and unable to sustain this country as they take on a growing aged population with their own smaller census of workers.

Talk about off-the-mark! How dare we skip the reality of today to focus so exclusively (even with justification) about tomorrow. These youth may not LIVE to inherit the earth: debt-laden or debt-free. These children cannot develop their bodies for the future when robbed of nutrients and health care today. These future workers will not become the engineers or the highway workers who maintain our infrastructure, so necessary to a vibrant economy, if their minds have not been nurtured with the opportunity and ability to achieve at least a basic education.

Yes, I’m scared…..and angry. Now is the time to refocus attention, discussion, and action. Please join me.

Posted in Child Welfare, Data and Statistics, Human Services, News and politics | Leave a Comment »

Important Re-post: Everyone’s future is on-the-table.

Posted by lboyd544 on September 6, 2011

Three essentials for the deficit panel’s proposal

By James E. Clyburn, Published: September 5

Since I was named to the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “supercommittee”) charged with getting our nation’s financial house in order, the reactions I have received from South Carolinians and others have been encouraging and remarkably enthusiastic. So much so that I have, on occasion, found it necessary to reflect on having grown up in a parsonage as a minister’s son, and cautioned that my 11 colleagues and I are not the “chosen 12.”

I am entering the committee’s negotiations with a clear vision, an open mind and a willingness to find common ground. I have always said that if the distance between my opponents and me is five steps, I don’t mind taking three. Real deficit reduction, however, must have three components: jobs, cuts and revenue.

Jobs: During the August recess I held a town hall meeting on the campus of Voorhees College, in Bamberg County, S.C. Bamberg has an unemployment rate of 17.5 percent. The neighboring counties of Barnwell, Orangeburg and Allendale have, respectively, unemployment rates of 17 percent, 17.7 percent and 19.8 percent. People didn’t want to hear about cuts or revenue; they wanted to hear about jobs. We cannot get the economy back on track until we put people back to work. Job creation will generate tax revenue and reduce the need for government assistance.

Cuts: Targeting waste, fraud and abuse; eliminating unnecessary and duplicative spending; and ending military adventurism need not be accompanied by slashing essential services such as education and shredding our social safety nets — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Just last week, the Commis sion on Wartime Contracting identified at least $31 billion, and possibly $60 billion, in waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan. This spring the Government Accountability Office identified 34 areas where federal agencies or offices offer overlapping and duplicative programs.Streamlining could save billions.

Revenue: While I think our current tax code is unfair and in need of massive overhaul, the supercommittee does not have the time or resources to sufficiently reform the tax code. But we do have time to reduce inequities, close loopholes, and eliminate outdated and unnecessary tax subsidies. The evidence is clear and convincing. There is a growing wealth gap in this country that is squeezing the middle class and pushing millions into poverty. We need to work together to address these urgent priorities.

This leads me back to my youthful days in the parsonage. I am the oldest of three boys. One day my brothers and I were having a disagreement that turned physical. Our minister father, who loved to teach through parables, called us over when he thought our altercation had gone on long enough. He gave a piece of cord string to my youngest brother, Charles, and asked him to break it. Charles couldn’t. He then gave it to my brother John and asked him to pop it. John couldn’t. Finally he gave it to me and told me to break the string. I couldn’t. Our father placed that piece of cord string between his palms and started rubbing his hands together. The more he rubbed, the more friction he created, and the cord string started to unravel — into three pieces. He gave one to each of us and told us to break them. This time when we tried, we succeeded. Then, dad gave us the lesson: “Don’t you let the little disagreements that crop up among you create so much friction that it separates you, because if you do, the world will pop you apart and you may never realize why.”

We, as a supercommittee, cannot let our differences cause too much disagreement. Debt and deficit reduction should be wrapped into a strong cord of job creation, budget cuts and revenue raisers. Pursuing them separately will weaken our efforts and could doom our mission.

The writer, a U.S. representative from South Carolina, is assistant Democratic leader in the House.

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To All Congressional Budget Appropriators:

Posted by lboyd544 on March 18, 2011

America’s children are non‐discretionary, non‐negotiable, and vital for our future.

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Good news for foster youth…for a change!

Posted by policyperformanceconsultants on February 4, 2011

It is important that all foster parents and providers service foster youth know that a key provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296), enacted on 12/13/10, amends a critical provision of the National School Lunch Act (42 USC 1758) to make any foster child eligible, without the necessity of an application, for free school meals. All that a local educational agency need receive is documentation from an appropriate state or local child welfare agency indicating that a child is a foster child under state responsibility or has been placed in a caretaker household by a court. These provisions were effective as of 10/1/10.

In addition to all foster children placed by a child welfare agency being eligible, a child placed by a court into a kinship home or other “caretaker” household would also be eligible.

These provisions are to be implemented now. If you know someone to whom this applies, be sure they are aware of this support.

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Welcome to Policy and Performance Consultants, Inc.

Posted by policyperformanceconsultants on August 5, 2010

We are excited about our presence on the web. Our launch is scheduled for September 1, 2010. Stay tuned.

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