Category Archives: Children

Rewarding the Work of Individuals: A Counterintuitive Approach to Reducing Poverty and Strengthening Families

Source: The Future of Children (via MRDC)

Between the end of World War II and 1973, the share of Americans living in poverty fell by half. But since 1973 the overall poverty rate has remained largely unchanged. Why didn’t poverty continue to decline? Falling wages and increasing rates of lone parenting are the two principal explanations. Economic changes led to stagnant and declining wages at the bottom of the wage distribution, especially among men with a high school diploma or less, and demographic changes saw a near doubling of the fraction of all families with children that were headed by a single parent.

The problems of falling wages and single parenthood are intertwined. As the wages of men with a high school education or less began to tumble, the employment rates of these men also fell, and, in turn, the share who could support a family above the poverty line began to decline — and with it the professed willingness of low-income mothers and fathers to marry. Because the U.S. social welfare system is built around the needs of poor families with children — and largely excludes single adults who are poor (and disproportionately male) — it creates disincentives to work and marry for some, aggravating these larger trends. Although recent changes have reduced marriage penalties in the tax and transfer system, some do remain, particularly when both spouses in a married-couple family have similar earnings.

A strategy that used the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to supplement the earnings of all low-wage workers aged 21 to 54 who work full time — whether they have children or not and whether they marry or not — would counter three decades of wage stagnation and persistent poverty, with significant positive corollary effects on employment and parental child support. By conditioning the benefit on full-time work, by targeting individuals regardless of their family status, by keeping the existing EITC for families with children in place, and by calculating EITC eligibility on the basis of individual income (as Canadians and Europeans do) rather than joint income for tax filing purposes, this earnings-based supplement would restore equity to the American social compact while minimizing the distortion of incentives to work, marry, and bear children.

Full Report (PDF; 156 KB)

New Report Finds Nearly One Quarter of All Children in Twelve States Don’t Have Consistent Access to Meals

Source: America’s Second Harvest

In the United States, one out of six children in small towns and big cities lives in a food insecure household, which means they do not always know where they will find their next meal. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 12 million children in the United States live in this condition – unable to consistently access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for a healthy life.

That’s enough children to fill every seat in all of the professional league football, baseball, basketball and hockey stadiums and every Division One NCAA basketball stadium across the country at the same time. Now, for the first time, the extent of child hunger as reported by the USDA has been examined by state in a new study released today by America’s Second Harvest–The Nation’s Food Bank Network and sponsored by ConAgra Foods Foundation. In 12 states – nearly one quarter of the country – more than 20 percent of the children live in households without consistent access to food.

Full Report (PDF; 260 KB)
Interactive Map

What Happens if SCHIP Is Not “Reauthorized”?

Source: Chris L. Peterson, Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress, Order Code RS22712, September 17, 2007

From the summary:
The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 created the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and provided nearly $40 billion in appropriations over the 10-year period FY1998 to FY2007. Legislative action would be necessary to provide new funds for SCHIP for FY2008 and beyond, but SCHIP’s statutory provisions do not need to be reauthorized as they will remain on the books unless Congress expressly repeals the current law. In the absence of an FY2008 SCHIP allotment, states with unexpended FY2006 and FY2007 federal SCHIP balances could continue to operate their programs with those funds in FY2008. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia are projected to be able to cover all of their federal FY2008 SCHIP spending even without an FY2008 SCHIP allotment. Among the 36 states projected to exhaust their federal SCHIP funds in FY2008, some may be able to access Medicaid funding, though at a reduced matching rate compared to SCHIP. However, 13 states would be in shortfall immediately, entering FY2008 with no prior-year SCHIP balances. An amount equal to approximately 18 days of these states’ federal SCHIP expenditures is projected to be available from the redistribution of unspent FY2005 allotments. This report may be updated in December 2007 with states’ more recent projections.

Hitting the M.A.R.C.: Establishing Foster Care Minimum Adequate Rates for Children

Source: Diane DePanfilis, Clara Daining, Kevin D. Frick, Julie Farber, Lisa Levinthal, Children’s Rights, National Foster Parent Association, University of Maryland School of Social Work, October 2007

In October 2007, Children’s Rights, the National Foster Parent Association and the University of Maryland School of Social Work released the first-ever nationwide, state-by-state calculation of the real cost of supporting children in foster care. The report reveals widespread deficiencies in reimbursement rates across the nation–and major disparities among the states–and proposes a new standard rate for each state to use in fulfilling the federal requirement to provide foster parents with payments to cover the basic needs of children in foster care, including food, shelter, clothing and school supplies.
Summary Report
Technical Report
Press Release
Individual State Fact Sheets
The survey on how states currently set rates
Interactive map

POOR CHILDREN FIRST — OR LAST? Watch What the Administration is Doing, Not What It Is Saying

Source: Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 17, 2007

The Bush administration has recently argued that the President favors providing health insurance to “poor children first” and vetoed bipartisan children’s health legislation because it violates this principle. On “This Week” on October 7, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt stated: “The President’s position can be summarized in three words: poor children first.”

But is the Administration’s claim about the bipartisan legislation accurate? Does the bill, in fact, put middle-income children ahead of poor ones? And do the Administration’s actions and policies put poor children first?

Pandemic Influenza: Warning, Children At-Risk

Source: Trust for America’s Health and American Academy of Pediatrics, Issue Brief, October 2007

From the summary:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) issued a report in October 2007, Pandemic Influenza: Warning, Children At-Risk, which finds that children and teens between the ages of 0-19 account for nearly 46 percent of all H5N1 “bird” flu deaths. The report also identifies gaps in U.S. preparedness for treating and caring for children during a possible pandemic flu outbreak.

The Agreement to Renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program: Separating Fact from Fiction

Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, News Release, September 25, 2007

White House rhetoric hides the truth about the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and incorrectly describes the congressional agreement to renew it. The Senate Finance Committee has worked across Congress throughout the year to craft CHIP legislation that will serve low-income children who currently lack health coverage.

Assessing States’ Progress in Meeting State Children’s Health Insurance Program Goals

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, OEI-05-07-00330, September 2007

Nationally the percentage of uninsured low-income children decreased between 2002 and 2005….
However, no State had a statistically significant change in the percentage of uninsured low-income children….
In 2006, 37 States met or made progress in meeting at least half of their performance goals….
Despite improvements made by CMS to the Annual Report template, States’ progress remains difficult to assess….

Report: Pre-K Momentum Climbs to an All-Time High

Source: Jennifer V. Doctors, Pre-K Now, September 2007

From the press release:
A record-breaking 36 states increased funding for pre-kindergarten according to a report released today by Pre-K Now. “Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2008,” an annual state-by-state analysis of legislative support for pre-k, shows historic momentum for funding early education across the country, with 528 million new dollars committed to providing at least 88,000 more children access to pre-k. The number of states increasing pre-k funding breaks last year’s record of 34, and far exceeds the FY05 record of 15.
Individual state data

State Child Care Assistance Policies 2007: Some Steps Forward, More Progress Needed

Source: Karen Schulman and Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center, Issue Brief, September 2007

The analysis, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2007: Some Steps Forward, More Progress Needed, compares child care assistance policies in 2007 to 2006 and 2001 in four key policy areas: reimbursement rates for providers, income eligibility, waiting lists for assistance and copayment requirements. States have made some progress since 2006 in the areas of income eligibility and waiting lists, the report found, but less progress was made in copayments, and almost no progress was made in reimbursement rates. Most states also continue to be behind where they were in 2001.