Pages tagged "Children and Families"
- West Virginia bucks the national trend with its high confinement rates. It was one of only five states where the rate of detention increased, despite a drop in both crime and population.
- In 2013, West Virginia confined juveniles at a rate of 510 per 10,000. By contrast, Massachusetts, with nearly four times the population of West Virginia, had just 393 youth in confinement.
- African American youth were nearly three times as likely to be confined as their white counterparts. West Virginia’s youth confinement rate for African Americans was 1.5 times higher than the national average.
- West Virginia was second only to Wyoming to confining young females. With a rate of 175 per 100,000, the Mountain State far exceeded the national rate of 47.
- Incarceration or other forms of detainment early in life are a major life disruption in the ordinary life course, which can have ripple effects into the future. Prior incarceration was a greater predictor of recidivism than carrying a weapon, gang membership, or poor parental relationships.
- In 2013, only one out of every eight committed youth in West Virginia was locked up based on a violent crime, such as homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, or sexual assault.
- Community-based programs were more cost-efficient and effective with recidivism rates than DJS facilities.
- In 2014, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin convened the West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice, which brought together legislative and judicial leaders as well as system experts to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the state’s system and to produce policy recommendations.
- West Virginia’s juvenile justice system has made real progress, however, it continues to face significant problems, particularly in the area of juvenile mental health.
- Looking at the system through a mental health lens could lead to more constructive solutions and positive outcomes for youth offenders. Some next steps include: creating a task force to address juvenile mental health; build the infrastructure to help public schools address mental health issues before a student is suspended or sent to court; and a long-term goal should to build an infrastructure which would ensure that students in danger of entering the system are assessed and referred to appropriate community-based programs whenever possible and appropriate.
- West Virginia’s communities, families, and youth will benefit if the only young people who are confined or detained in out-of-home facilities are those who constitute a threat to the public or themselves.
On July 24, 2014, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, West Virginia FREE and the Service Employees International Union presented "Keeping Families Healthy: West Virginia Earned Sick Days and Family Medical Leave" at the Our Children Our Future Policy Workshop in Hurricane, WV. View the full presentation.
Everybody Needs Time Off from Work and 227,000 West Virginia Workers Lack Access to Paid Sick Days:
- Caring for a sick child, an elderly parent, or ourselves, all of us sometimes need time off from work.
- But many workers in West Virginia don’t have any source of income when they must take time off for their own health or to care for their family.
On March 23, Governor Tomblin used his line-item veto power to cut several early childhood and domestic violence programs from the FY2015 budget passed by the legislature. This included over $1 million in cuts to In-Home Family Education, Family Resource Networks and Starting Points Family Resource Centers, Child Advocacy Centers, domestic violence programs and services, and child abuse prevention. Many of these programs have seen cuts in prior years or have not had any funding increases for years, while the cost of services and the increase in the number of families needing assistance has continued to rise, making it impossible to serve as many families and children. Read PDF of report.
The good news is that it is not too late to restore these cuts. Governor Tomblin has indicated he plans to call a Special Legislative Session on May 19 and that a supplemental appropriations bill to restore these cuts could be part of that agenda.
This report looks at the important family support programs that were cut, the important communities they serve, the money they leverage, and the strong support they have in West Virginia. Read PDF of report.
- From preventing child abuse to giving parents the tools they need to raise healthy children, these programs are a vital piece in making the state’s communities strong and safe.
- Altogether, these programs leverage over $14 million in federal and private funds.
- These programs are not only efficient, but they are a sound investment. For example, every $1 invested in In-Home Family Education programs returns $5.70 to the community.
- These cuts will hurt families and kill jobs. The cuts to In-Home Family Education could mean 75 fewer families receiving vital services to help their children, while at least 560 victims of domestic violence will not receive services. Cuts to domestic violence grants also mean that between seven and 14 people will lose their jobs.
- These programs have tremendous support, including the faith community, child-policy experts, and among both Democrats and Republicans.
350,000 low-income people in West Virginia will see their food assistance cut when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) expires November 1, new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show. SNAP benefits will average only about $1.40 per person per meal after the cut.
The cut will affect all of the nearly 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, who receive SNAP benefits. For a family of three, that cut will likely amount to $29 a month. That’s a serious loss given SNAP’s already low benefit levels and the very low incomes of SNAP participants — over 80 percent of SNAP households live in poverty.
In West Virginia, the benefit cut through October 2014 will total $36 million, slowing economic growth by reducing overall consumption. Nationally, the cut will total roughly $5 billion in federal fiscal year 2014 and an additional $6 billion across fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
Benefit Increase Designed to Boost Economy and Ease Hardship
Congress enacted the benefit increase as part of the 2009 Recovery Act to deliver high “bang-for-the-buck” economic stimulus and ease hardship. The Recovery Act boosted SNAP’s maximum monthly benefits by 13.6 percent beginning in April 2009. It provided that SNAP benefit levels would continue at the new, higher amount until SNAP’s regular annual inflation adjustments to the maximum benefit exceeded the Recovery Act amount. But Congress has since voted to accelerate the sunset of the benefit increase to October 31.
The scheduled cuts are especially painful in light of the inadequacy of existing benefit levels. In a report issued by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, nutrition experts identified several shortcomings with the current SNAP benefit allotment and recommended evaluating ways of changing the benefit calculation to better ensure that households have enough resources to purchase an adequate diet.
Benefit Cuts Will Increase Hardship
These cuts will likely cause hardship for many SNAP participants, who will include 22 million children in 2014 (10 million of whom live in “deep poverty,” with family incomes below half the poverty line) and nine million people who are elderly or have a serious disability. In West Virginia, 350,000 participate in the program — that’s nearly 1 in 5 residents.
USDA has found that the Recovery Act’s benefit boost reduced the number of households in which one or more persons had to skip meals or otherwise eat less because they lacked money — what USDA calls “very low food security” — by about 500,000 households in 2009. More recent research finds that boosting SNAP benefits during the summer for households with school-aged children who don’t have access to USDA’s summer food program cut very low food security among these households by nearly 20 percent.
Given this research and the inadequacy of current benefit levels, we can reasonably assume that a reduction in SNAP benefit levels of this size will significantly increase the number of poor households that have difficulty affording adequate food this fall.
Evidence Doesn’t Support Argument for Cutting SNAP
The Obama Administration and some members of Congress have proposed delaying or cancelling the November 1 cut, but Congress has taken no action on these proposals. Moreover, some in Congress have called for deep cuts in SNAP on top of the scheduled cut. The House of Representatives, which recently defeated legislation that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP — eliminating food assistance for nearly 2 million people — could reconsider these or even deeper cuts in the coming weeks.
Supporters of large SNAP cuts claim that because SNAP enrollment hasn’t declined in tandem with the unemployment rate over the past few years, the program’s enrollment growth in recent years is largely unrelated to the poor economy. In reality, however, the recent reductions in the unemployment rate overstate the improvements in the labor market, as Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke has observed. The proportion of the adult population with a job — the employment rate — has barely improved since the recession bottomed out.
In addition, the number of unemployed workers not receiving unemployment benefits — the group of the unemployed most likely to qualify for SNAP because they have neither wages nor UI benefits — has continued to grow and is higher now than at the bottom of the recession. Also, the historical record shows that declines in poverty and SNAP enrollment typically lag behind declines in the unemployment rate following recessions.
For more detail on the scheduled cut, see Stacy Dean and Dorothy Rosenbaum, “SNAP Benefits Will Be Cut for All Participants in November 2013,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 1, 2013, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3899.
Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Examining the Evidence to Define Benefit Adequacy, The National Academy Press, 2013, http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/Supplemental-Nutrition-Assistance-Program-Examining-the-Evidence-to-Define-Benefit-Adequacy.aspx.
Mark Nord and Mark Prell, “Food Security of SNAP Recipients Improved Following the 2009 Stimulus Package,” Amber Waves, 9(2), June 2011, p. 6, http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/227714/foodsecuritysnap_1_.pdf.
Evaluation of the Impact of Enhancement Demonstrations on Participation in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP): FY 2011; FNS, USDA, November 2012, http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/CNP/FILES/SEBTC_Year1Findings.pdf.
“Bernanke Talks: A Conversation at the NBER,” Real Time Economics, Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2013, http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/07/11/bernanke-talks-a-conversation-at-the-nber/.
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) report, this new report revisits many of the same measures of well-being that ARC researchers examined a half-century ago. This analysis, however, focuses its attention on West Virginia, the one state that exists entirely within the federally designated Appalachian region, and, more specifically, on the children of West Virginia. Read PDF of report
While inflation has dramatically altered the numbers, many of the disparities persist. West Virginia still lags behind most states in educational attainment, employment and per capita income, while remaining a front-runner in poverty. Within West Virginia, age and racial differences in poverty rates continue, with African American children being the poorest residents of all.
Among these discouraging statistics, however, one promising trend line stands out. When the ARC report was published, a staggering 40 percent of seniors (65 and older) in West Virginia lived in poverty. Due largely to Social Security, that rate has dropped by three-quarters to about 10 percent today.
Perhaps the most crucial questions that emerge from the updated graphs are these: if we applied to children the rigorous anti-poverty effort that so stunningly reduced poverty among our seniors, could we achieve the same positive impact on measures of child well-being? And if we can muster the public and political will to take such action, what might West Virginia’s economy and quality of life look like in the next 10, 20 or 50 years?
This goal of this report is to provide timely and useful information to help West Virginians reduce child poverty and its tragic effects. It provides an overview of the effects of poverty on children and society (Section 1), an explanation of how poverty is measured (Section 2), an in-depth profile of child poverty in West Virginia (Section 3), and an examination of past and present policy responses to the problem (Section 4).
West Virginia’s children are struggling to attend school, develop healthy lifestyles, and receive their high school diploma. During the 2011/2012 school year, one in three students in West Virginia had at least five unexcused absences from school. Truant children often fall behind their peers, perform worse in school, and are more likely to drop out. More than one in three children in West Virginia are obese, putting them at risk for a multitude of health issues. West Virginia has the 20th highest dropout rate among high school students, and these dropouts will find it increasingly difficult to find employment and become financially secure in the future. Read PDF of report
This report examines these issues of truancy, childhood obesity, and high school dropouts in West Virginia and looks at the role afterschool programs can play in alleviating them. In addition, this report maps the locations of afterschool programs in West Virginia against a range of educational, poverty, health, and economic measures at the census tract and county levels. These maps can help afterschool advocates identify areas of the state that may need additional support and attention.
• County truancy rates ranged from just under 10 percent to nearly 58 percent.
• Childhood obesity rates in the United States tripled from 1980 to 2008, rising from seven percent to 21 percent.
• Obesity rates are higher among nonwhite children than white children. Obesity rates also tend to be higher among children in low-income families than children in high- or middle-income families.
• In 2007, 16.7 percent of West Virginia youth between the ages of 10 and 17 were overweight and an additional 18.9 percent were obese.
• West Virginia’s preschool-age obesity rate is increasing rapidly. In 2000, only 12 counties in the state had preschool obesity rates greater than 13 percent. By 2009, the number had increased to 25 counties.
• Between 2008 and 2009, 4.1 percent of West Virginia’s high school students left school without transferring to another school or completing their degree.
• West Virginia’s dropout rate among African- Americans is low compared to other states. The rate for white students is one of the highest.
• 18 percent of West Virginia’s population over 25 did not complete high school.
• Among 16 to 25 year olds, high school dropouts have the lowest employment rate of 45.7 percent. In comparison, 86.8 percent of individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher had work in 2008.
• Dropouts earn millions less in a lifetime than those who graduate from college or have higher degrees.
• Studies have shown that afterschool programs can improve a student’s behavior, grades, and attendance, and can close the achievement gap. Since children typically attend these programs nearly every weekday for several hours at a time, the potential influence an afterschool program can have on the life and health of a child is immense.
• There are at least 380 afterschool program sites in West Virginia, although they are not distributed evenly across the state.
Every day in West Virginia, thousands of low-income families rely on public child care assistance. In 2011, the West Virginia Child Care Program – which is funded primarily through the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and state matching funds – provided financial assistance to more than 24,000 children whose parents were working or going to school. Read full report
Access to affordable child care is an integral part of helping low-income parents keep the jobs they need to support their families while also providing a safe and reliable environment that prepares children for school. Without this support, many low-income families would be unable to be gainfully employed and could end up stuck in poverty. The West Virginia Child Care Program also plays a critical role in supporting the state’s economy by creating thousands of jobs.
Over the last several years, West Virginia increased funding to the program from additional federal appropriations (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) and TANF. On June 21, 2012, the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources (DHHR) announced substantial cuts to the program because these additional funds were no longer available. These cuts included freezing enrollment in the program to mostly TANF eligible families, increasing daily copayments paid by parents, and scaling back eligibility of those enrolled in the program.
While Governor Tomblin lifted the enrollment freeze in the program in July of 2012, he did not stop the other cuts to the program. On August 1, 2012, the copayments for families receiving child care assistance grew dramatically.
For example, a single mother with one child living at 100 percent of poverty (approximately $15,130 yearly income) saw her monthly copayments grow from roughly two percent of monthly income ($29) to more than nine percent ($115). The changes in co-payments will reduce child care assistance by an estimated $3 million annually, or by an annual average of approximately $250 per enrolled child.
Beginning January 1, 2013, families earning between 150 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level will no longer receive childcare assistance. According to DHHR, the changes in eligibility will remove over 800 families with 1,400 children from the program and reduce funding by $4.5 million per year once fully implemented.
In addition, there will likely be layoffs of child care workers. These changes in copays and eligibility could leave many low-income families without the child care support they need to keep their job or go to school. If costs become too prohibitive, some parents will likely have to stop working in order to stay home and care for their children. Children could also be adversely affected, as some families may have to leave children home alone or in other unsafe situations because they cannot afford the higher price of child care.
The purpose of this brief is to examine how these changes will impact low-income working families enrolled in the WV Child Care Program. It will also explore the relevant research on the importance of child care assistance, how the program is structured and funded, the importance of the child care industry to the state, and offer several recommendations for how policymakers can help low-income families with child care assistance.
Key Findings about Child Care Assistance in West Virginia
• Low-income parents - those with incomes below 150 percent of poverty – can enroll children ages 0 to 12 (up to age 18 in some circumstances) if they are working or going to school.
• West Virginia’s income eligibility limit is lower than all but 15 states.
• Enrollment in the program is at its lowest point in four years (13, 449 in 2012), and there are 7,500 fewer children enrolled compared to 2001.
• Single mothers with one child at 100 percent of poverty now pay on average 9.1 percent of their monthly income for child care compared to 2.3 percent at the beginning of 2012.
• Approximately 90 percent of child care assistance funding ($68.1 million) is from two federal block grants (Child Care Development Fund and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), while nine percent or $6.2 million came from state general revenue funds in 2011.
• In 2008, West Virginia spent $18.9 million in TANF funds on child care assistance compared to $29.4 million in 2011. These additional TANF funds came from carryover reserve funds.
Solutions to Improve Child Care Assistance
• With $898 million in Rainy Day Funds, the state can prevent child care cuts. Lawmakers could also explore raising the tobacco tax or other sources of revenue to stop cuts in child care assistance. West Virginia would not be alone in appropriating additional money for child care assistance. In 2010, nine other states spent $82 million on child care assistance programs beyond what they needed to match federal funds.
• A close examination of the TANF budget should be made. From 1997 to 2008, West Virginia did not spend TANF funds under the category of “Authorized Under Prior Law.” However, between 2009 and 2011 the state spent about $85 million under AUPL, and a good portion of these funds went toward “foster care services” even though these services do not meet one of the four stated purposes of TANF. West Virginia also spends an above average amount of funds on administration and systems, 12.1 percent compared to the national average of 6.9 percent in 2011.
• The state should explore the creation of a refundable child care tax credit.
• Over the long-run, West Virginia should examine best practices in child care assistance policies in other states that could be used to strengthen the WV Child Care Program. Read PDF of full report
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, “DHHR curtails child care services, cuts grants,” (Press release), June 21, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.wvdhhr.org/communications/news_releases/DHHRcurtailsChildCareServicesCutsGrants.pdf.
Lori Kersey, “Hundreds of W.Va. families to lose child-care subsidies,” Charleston Gazette, June 21, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.wvgazette.com/News/politics/201206210079.
It's time to eliminate the asset test for Medicaid and TANF. Right now low-income West Virginians are required to spend down their assets like retirement accounts before they can qualify for financial assistance like Medicaid. Families are depleting resources that could help in the long-term so they can qualify for short-term assistance. Many other states don't do this, and West Virginia could save administrative costs and help its low-income families by following their lead. Read
A state version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit would bolster the economic security of working families, according to a new report released February 17 by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and the Alliance for Sustainable Families. The state credit would impact an estimated 90,000 working families who struggle to make ends meet. Read