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Granite State Rumblings: The Dire Consequences Of ACA Repeal In NH

Last week we took a broad look at what repeal of the Affordable Care Act could mean for Medicaid and CHIP. This week let’s dig a little further into what the repeal would mean to children.

Repeal of the ACA would have particularly dire consequences for the 4.4 million children who would become uninsured. Health insurance for children has long-term positive outcomes, such as reductions in infant mortality and childhood deaths, improved health, and reduced disability. But there are subtler effects, too: expanding health coverage for low-income children improves high school and postsecondary success, and also employment over the long haul. Plus, children’s life chances are improved when parents are able to get the care they need, like treatment for depression (which is widespread among low-income mothers of young children). In states that have expanded Medicaid under the ACA, many more parents have health insurance, making access to treatment for behavioral health or substance use disorders more available, which helps parents’ own health and improves outcomes for their children.  ~ Source: CLASP ~

10 Reasons Why Repealing the ACA Would Harm Kids

  1. If health reform were repealed, insurers would go back to denying coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. Parents of children with cancer, children born with a birth defect, children with asthma, special-needs kids, among others, would once again be unable to get coverage for their kids without the Affordable Care Act.
  2. Insurers would return to the practice of placing lifetime limits on coverage so that if a child is fortunate enough to beat leukemia when they are 8 they would be uninsurable if they face another serious illness later in life.
  3. Dependent children through age 26 would not be guaranteed access to coverage on their parents’ policy, leaving scores of young adults, including recent high school and college grads, back among the ranks of the uninsured.
  4. Insurers would not have to cover vision care services or eyeglasses for children even if it is impossible for a child to be successful in school if they can’t see
  5. Insurers also would not be required to cover dental care, a horrible return to the days when lack of coverage could cause a child to die from an infected tooth that could have been addressed for about 100.
  6. Repealing health reform would jeopardize the future of the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a federal-state program that offers low or no-cost coverage for families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy their own coverage. CHIP and Medicaid were crucial for families during the recession, ensuring that coverage for kids remained stable despite the downturn in the economy.
  7. Children with terminal illnesses would be returned to the days when they would not be able to get compassionate end-of-life hospice care unless they agreed to forgo looking for a cure for their illness.
  8. Insurers would be allowed to resume the practice of charging co-payments for preventive health services, including essential well-baby and well-child visits, and vaccinations, creating financial disincentives for parents to get care for their children that keeps them healthy.
  9. Children in foster care would no longer qualify for Medicaid beyond age 18. This provision parallels the one enabling young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26.
  10. Efforts to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and streamline enrollment processes for children who are already eligible but not enrolled in public health coverage would suffer if health reform was repealed. Nearly two-thirds of children who are uninsured actually qualify for coverage but face significant barriers that make it difficult for them to sign-up or re-enroll for coverage.

As we explained last week, through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have worked in unison to dramatically cut the ranks of the uninsured across the country. CHIP has provided coverage to the almost eight million children whose families currently or once lived in the coverage gap. 

Because of the options available under the ACA the percentage of uninsured children has dropped from 14.9 percent in 1997 to just 4.8 percent in 2015 — a 68 percent reduction. That is impressive! 

Medicaid and CHIP have also been an option for many parents who can participate in a health insurance option through their employers, but because of costs associated with employer based coverage have turned instead to these programs.

Michelle Andrews with Kaiser Health News, a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation wrote about this in a recent article.

Many Parents With Job-Based Coverage Still Turn To Medicaid, CHIP To Insure Kids

By Michelle Andrews, December 9, 2016

Lower income parents who have health insurance through their employers are increasingly likely to forgo family coverage and enroll their kids in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) instead, a new study found. Working families’ growing reliance on these programs is something lawmakers should keep in mind when they consider whether to renew financing for the CHIP program in 2017, the study’s lead author said.

“These aren’t just safety net programs for uninsured families,” said Douglas Strane, a clinical research associate at PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the lead author of the study, which appeared in the December issue of Health Affairs. “If CHIP isn’t renewed, we could place substantial pressure on working families.”

Medicaid is the state-federal program that provides health coverage for low-income adults and children. CHIP provides health insurance for children in families whose incomes are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid. In 2016, only three states — Arizona, Idaho and North Dakota — limited Medicaid/CHIP coverage to children whose families have incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($40,320 for a family of three). In contrast, 19 states offered coverage to children with family incomes greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($60,480 for a three-person family), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Medicaid/CHIP out-of-pocket costs vary by state, but coverage is generally significantly less expensive than employer coverage.

Health Affairs study analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey between 2008 and 2013 for families with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level in which at least one parent had employer-sponsored coverage. The study predated the opening of the health law’s marketplaces, but the researchers said that because these families had employer-based coverage options, they would likely not qualify for less expensive coverage on the exchanges.

Over the course of the study, nearly all the families in which a parent was offered coverage accepted it for the parent, and about three-quarters of children in the sample were covered by their parents’ employer-sponsored plan, on average.

But the proportion of kids who lacked employer-sponsored coverage even though at least one parent had it grew from 22.5 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2013, the study found. Likewise, the percentage of children who were on Medicaid or CHIP even though at least one parent had coverage through an employer increased 3.1 percentage points, to 15.2 percent, over the course of the study.

Premium increases for employer-sponsored coverage may put a family plan out of reach for low- and moderate-income families, said Strane. Between 2006 and 2016 premiums rose 58 percent for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2016 annual survey of employer-sponsored coverage. This year, families pay $5,277 for coverage on average, 29 percent of the total cost of the plan. Workers’ share of the premium grew 78 percent over the past decade, outpacing the growth in premiums, according to the KFF study.

“They did the math and likely figured CHIP was going to save them money,” said Strane.

There is a lot at stake for children and families as the plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act moves forward. And we need your help!

Personal stories are the most powerful tools we have in our fight to protect access to affordable, high-quality healthcare for all children and their families. By telling your story in support of CHIP, Medicaid and the consumer protections gained under the Affordable Care Act, you help put a face to how kids and families will be impacted by the threat to repeal the Affordable Care Act and dismantle Medicaid and CHIP.

Every Child Matters in NH and Maine are collecting stories from those who have benefitted from Medicaid and CHIP.

Please share this link and help us collect real life stories that we will share with our members of Congress and the new Administration in Washington. We have the data; now we need your story!

Impact of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire

Thousands of Granite Staters have gained coverage, and hundreds of thousands more have had their coverage substantially improved.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an extensive compilation of state-level data illustrating the substantial improvements in health care for all Americans over the last six years. The data show that the uninsured rate in New Hampshire has fallen by 43 percent since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010, translating into 63,000 Granite Staters gaining coverage. And, in addition to residents who would otherwise be uninsured, hundreds of thousands more Granite Staters with employer, Medicaid, individual market, or Medicare coverage have also benefited from new protections as a result of the law.

“As our nation debates changes to the health care system, it’s important to take stock of where we are today compared to where we were before the Affordable Care Act,” said Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “Whether New Hampshirites get coverage through an employer, Medicaid, the individual market, or Medicare, they have better health coverage and care today as a result of the ACA. Millions of Americans with all types of coverage have a stake in the future of health reform. We need to build on our progress and continue to improve health care access, quality, and affordability, not move our system backward.”

Highlights of the data release include:

Employer Coverage: 853,000 people in New Hampshire are covered through employer-sponsored health plans. Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, this group has seen:

  • An end to annual and lifetime limits: Before the ACA, 545,000 Granite Staters with employer or individual market coverage had a lifetime limit on their insurance policy. That meant their coverage could end exactly when they needed it most. The ACA prohibits annual and lifetime limits on policies, so all New Hampshirites with employer plans now have coverage that’s there when they need it.
  • Young adults covered until age 26: An estimated 9,000 young adults in New Hampshire have benefited from the ACA provision that allows kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26.
  • Free preventive care: Under the ACA, health plans must cover preventive services — like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – at no extra cost to consumers. This provision benefits 690,524 people in New Hampshire, most of whom have employer coverage.
  • Slower premium growth: The average premium for New Hampshire families with employer coverage grew 4.8 percent per year from 2010-2015, compared with 7.3 percent over the previous decade. Assuming New Hampshire premiums grew in line with the national average in 2016, family premiums in New Hampshire are $3,300 lower today than if growth had matched the pre-ACA decade.
  • Better value through the 80/20 rule: Because of the ACA, health insurance companies must spend at least 80 cents of each premium dollar on health care or care improvements, rather than administrative costs like salaries or marketing, or else give consumers a refund. Granite Staters with employer coverage have received $2,264,293 in insurance refunds since 2012.

Medicaid: 189,429 people in New Hampshire are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, including 94,622 children and 20,839 seniors and people with disabilities covered by both Medicaid and Medicare. The ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility and strengthened the program for those already eligible.

  • 22,000 Granite Staters have gained coverage through Medicaid: An estimated 22,000 New Hampshire residents have health insurance today because New Hampshire expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Coverage improves access to care, financial security, and health, resulting in an estimated 3,000 more Granite Staters getting all needed care, 3,200 fewer Granite Staters struggling to pay medical bills, and 30 avoided deaths each year.
  • Thousands of Granite Staters with a mental illness or substance use disorder are getting care: Thanks to expansion and improved access to treatment, an estimated 2,000 fewer Granite Staters are experiencing symptoms of depression.
  • New Hampshire is saving millions in uncompensated care costs: Instead of spending $20 million on uncompensated care, which increases costs for everyone, New Hampshire is getting $210 million in federal support to provide low-income adults with much needed coverage.
  • Children, people with disabilities, and seniors can more easily access Medicaid coverage: The ACA streamlined Medicaid eligibility processes, eliminating hurdles so that vulnerable Granite Staters could more easily access and maintain coverage.
  • New Hampshire is improving behavioral health: Under the ACA, CMS is helping New Hampshire link payments with improved outcomes for beneficiaries with co-morbid conditions; customize expansions/ enhancements to specific populations; and spread integration efforts to new areas of the state.

Individual market: 49,114 people in New Hampshire have coverage through the Marketplace. Individual market coverage is dramatically better compared to before the ACA:

  • No discrimination based on pre-existing conditions: Up to 597,050 people in New Hampshire have a pre-existing health condition. Before the ACA, these Granite Staters could have been denied coverage or charged an exorbitant price if they needed individual market coverage. Now, health insurance companies cannot refuse coverage or charge people more because of pre-existing conditions.
  • Tax credits available to help pay for coverage: Before the ACA, only those with employer coverage generally got tax benefits to help pay for health insurance. Now, 31,151 moderate- and middle-income Granite State resudents receive tax credits averaging $261 per month to help them get covered through HealthCare.gov.
  • Women pay the same as men: Before the ACA, women were often charged more than men just because of their gender. That is now illegal thanks to the ACA, protecting roughly half the people of New Hampshire.
  • Greater transparency and choice: Before the ACA, it was virtually impossible for consumers to effectively compare insurance plan prices and shop for the best value. Under the ACA, New Hampshire has received $9 million in federal funding to provide a more transparent marketplace where consumers can easily compare plans, choosing among 32 plans on average.

Medicare: 275,803 people in New Hampshire are covered by Medicare. The ACA strengthened the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its life by over a decade. In addition, Medicare enrollees have benefited from:

  • Lower costs for prescription drugs: Because the ACA is closing the prescription drug donut hole, 21,026 New Hampshire seniors are saving $22 million on drugs in 2015, an average of $1,047 per beneficiary.
  • Free preventive services: The ACA added coverage of an annual wellness visit and eliminated cost-sharing for recommended preventive services such as cancer screenings. In 2015, 176,282 New Hampshire seniors, or 74 percent of all New Hampshire seniors enrolled in Medicare Part B, took advantage of at least one free preventive service.
  • Fewer hospital mistakes: The ACA introduced new incentives for hospitals to avoid preventable patient harms and avoidable readmissions. Hospital readmissions for New Hampshire Medicare beneficiaries dropped 3 percent between 2010 and 2015, which translates into 152 times New Hampshire Medicare beneficiaries avoided an unnecessary return to the hospital in 2015. 
  • More coordinated care: The ACA encouraged groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers to come together to provide coordinated high-quality care to the Medicare patients they serve. 8 Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in New Hampshire now offer Medicare beneficiaries the opportunity to receive higher quality, more coordinated care.

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed on December 13, 2016

From our friends at the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy: 

The future of our state depends on lawmakers acting now to enact policies that help New Hampshire become the best state to live, work and raise a family.

Join us Thursday, January 26 in Concord to make our voices heard. RSVP today to attend the Family Friendly Economy State House Day.

Together, we will make sure that our lawmakers act this year to establish paid family and medical leave insurance and make investments in child care so working families can make ends meet while caring for their families. 

Our day of activities will include a breakfast training, small group meetings with legislators, and a press conference to get our message out far and wide. Your voice is critical to our success.

Ahead of January 26, we’ll work with you to schedule a meeting in Concord with your legislator so you can share with them why it’s critical to your family’s future that they act to increase investment in quality child care and establish a family and medical leave insurance program in New Hampshire.

Your legislator needs to hear from you. Join us at our Family Friendly Economy State House Day. RSVP now to be a critical part of creating a brighter future for New Hampshire’s workforce!

Our state’s economic prosperity depends on keeping parents in the workforce and providing for the next generation – our children can’t wait. We must speak out. 

Thanks for your support,

Amanda Sears
Director, Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy

There are a few upcoming events in 2017 that I want to be sure are on your radar. 

Family Friendly Economy State House Day: January 26th 9am-1pm, Concord State House (114 N Main Street). You can find more information about it HERE.

The NH Children’s Trust 6th Annual Strengthening Families Summit is set for Tuesday, March 28th. You can find more information about it HERE.

Granite State Rumblings: 4th of July History & Trivia and The Decline Of Child Well Being In NH

Does this year seem to be flying by to you too? This coming Monday is the 4th of July. Happy Independence Day!

In honor of our great country and her history I have put together some Independence Day fun facts, history and trivia.

On July the 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress. Thereafter, the 13 colonies embarked on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. This most American of holidays is traditionally celebrated with parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country. As you head out to enjoy your holiday celebration, take a minute to think about how much you really know about what we are celebrating.

4th of July History & Trivia –

  • The major objection to being ruled by Britain was taxation without representation. The colonists had no say in the decisions of English Parliament.
  • In May, 1776, after nearly a year of trying to resolve their differences with England, the colonies sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. Finally, in June, admitting that their efforts were hopeless; a committee was formed to compose the formal Declaration of Independence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee also included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Livingston and Roger Sherman. On June 28, 1776, Thomas Jefferson presented the first draft of the declaration to Congress.
  • Betsy Ross, according to legend, sewed the first American flag in May or June 1776, as commissioned by the Congressional Committee.
  • Independence Day was first celebrated in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.
  • The Liberty Bell sounded from the tower of Independence Hall on July 8, 1776, summoning citizens to gather for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence by Colonel John Nixon.
  • June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress, looking to promote national pride and unity, adopted the national flag. “Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
  • The word ‘patriotism’ comes from the Latin patria, which means ‘homeland’ or ‘fatherland.’
  • The first public Fourth of July event at the White House occurred in 1804.
  • Before cars ruled the roadway, the Fourth of July was traditionally the most miserable day of the year for horses, tormented by all the noise and by the boys and girls who threw firecrackers at them.
  • The first Independence Day celebration west of the Mississippi occurred at Independence Creek and was celebrated by Lewis and Clark in 1805.
  • On June 24, 1826, Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to Roger C. Weightman, declining an invitation to come to Washington, D.C., to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. It was the last letter that Jefferson, who was gravely ill, ever wrote.
  • The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence did not sign at the same time, nor did they sign on July 4, 1776. The official event occurred on August 2, 1776, when 50 men signed it.
  • Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826.
  • Thomas McKean was the last to sign in January, 1777.
  • The origin of Uncle Sam probably began in 1812, when Samuel Wilson was a meat packer who provided meat to the US Army. The meat shipments were stamped with the initials, U.S. Someone joked that the initials stood for “Uncle Sam”. This joke eventually led to the idea of Uncle Sam symbolizing the United States government.
  • In 1941, Congress declared the 4th of July a federal legal holiday. It is one of the few federal holidays that have not been moved to the nearest Friday or Monday.
  • As leaders in the revolutionary cause, New Hampshire delegates received the honor of being the first to vote for the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Be safe if traveling! Enjoy the holiday!


GROWING UP GRANITE 

We want to take YOU & the KIDS Out to the Ball Game!

Every Child Matters in NH and MomsRising have teamed up to take your family to the Fisher Cats!

Be our guest at the NH Fisher Cats vs. Binghamton Mets game on Sunday afternoon, July 10th.

We’ve got our hands on a limited number of tickets to this game and we’re giving them away for FREE!

All you have to do is SHARE our Every Child Matters NH FaceBook post or COMMENT on our FaceBook page as to why access to affordable, quality childcare is important will get FREE tickets to the game! * A limited quantity of free tickets are available.

The best part is that any kids who come to the game with an Every Child Matters ticket will be invited to go onto the field with the Fisher Cats and Fungo and Friends before the National Anthem for a fun high-five tunnel. PLUS we’ll draw the name of one lucky kiddo who will be able to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the start of the game!

We’ve also got great gifts for the kids and an AWESOME Raffle Prize which will include all the tools you need for an awesome Family Game Night at home.

See YOU at the Ball Park!


An editorial from Foster’s Daily Democrat:

Reason for concern from Kids Count results

The recent Kids Count Data Book showed declines in how children are faring in New Hampshire and Maine and point to areas of concern on which the public and policy-makers need to focus some attention.

The bad news is New Hampshire and Maine have declined in the state ranking of child well-being in an annual national study by Kids Count. The good news is both states remain in enviable spots compared to the rest of the country.

This annual survey by the Annie E. Casey Foundation is one of the best measures of how young Americans are doing, and its Kids Count Data Book should serve as a useful guide for focusing public policy.

So how are we doing?

The report looks at the overall picture, then breaks it down into four core areas.

  • Overall, our kids’ well-being put NH at No. 4 among states. It had been No. 2 for 10 years, so this bears watching. Maine was No. 17; it had been No. 12.
  • Economic well-being ranked No. 7 for NH, while Maine was No. 23.
  • Education ranked No. 4 for NH this year, No. 15 for Maine.
  • Health ranked No. 25 for NH, Maine was No. 20.
  • Family and Community ranked NH No. 1, while Maine ranked No. 9.

Despite the view that the area has recovered from the Great Recession, there still are an estimated 34,000 New Hampshire kids living in poverty, according to the report. This is 4 percent more than in 2008.

New Hampshire State Sen. David Watters noted in a recent news article that 36 percent of schoolkids in Strafford County qualify for reduced or free lunches due to their families’ low incomes. It is not a good thing when more than a third of the families here are considered in need of aid.

In Maine, an estimated 19 percent of kids live in poverty. This drops to 14 percent in neighboring York County, one of Maine’s most affluent areas.

Amy Bourgault, state director of the NH Kids Count division, said one of the top concerns is children’s access to nutritional food. Good nutrition sets students up for success and is the reason why ensuring they get good lunches is so important.

Nutritional issues play a part in the NH overall score decline, as the state Health ranking dropped from 17th to 25th place. Bourgault noted they are looking at the root causes of this.

A major takeaway from the report is the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

As it noted; “More than two decades of research make it clear that growing up in a low-income family can have profound effects on children … poverty can impede their cognitive, social and emotional development and contribute to poor health.”

This begins a downward spiral that has implications and costs for all of us as in more high school dropouts, more teen pregnancies, less income potential and poor health.

The report noted that better socioeconomic status gives huge advantages to kids from those families.

“Advantages that start at birth continue to accumulate as kids grow up. By the time children enter kindergarten, the children of higher-income, college-educated parents already have an enormous head start,” said the report.

All is not lost for those growing up disadvantaged, however. The report notes that kids are resilient and can improve their future prospects. But the odds are stacked against them, which is why government programs such as health care, food aid and early education are so important.

Dover’s Sen. Watters is a big proponent of improving pre-kindergarten programs and notes that New Hampshire is one of only seven states that don’t provide pre-school for kids. He is right on in this regard, if we want to remain among the best states to raise healthy children.

For those interested in reading more about the report’s finding, go to

http://www.nhkidscount.org/sites/default/files/2016%20KCDB_FINAL.pdf.

Granite State Rumblings: Putting Children And Families First in the Primary

The Iowa caucus is over and on Tuesday, February 9th the voters in New Hampshire will have their say on the candidates they feel will best lead their party to victory in November. This primary season has seen candidates come and go, different issues take center stage, and viewpoints change.

Through it all, the staff of Every Child Matters in New Hampshire has followed the candidates across the state, helped raise the issues that are important to children and families in the state and across the country, and asked every major candidate a question on those issues. We have participated in round table discussions, Conversations with the Candidates, town hall events and forums, held weekly Twitter Chats about the issues with our partner MomsRising, and worked to educate potential voters about the process and the issues.

During this last week before the First in the Nation NH Primary, the candidates will be back in the state. Here are several things that you can do to continue to raise the issues.

  • Please take a look at our Every Child Matters Digital Dialogue – which is a collection of brief snapshots for each of the two major parties’ presidential candidates – a sample record of what they’ve been saying and doing on some issues that we at Every Child Matters have worked on for years.
  • Then continue the conversation by:

to ask a question about their position on an issue that is important to you.

You also have 2 more chances to hear what almost all of the candidates have to say first hand.

On Thursday evening February 4th, the 3 Democratic Candidates will participate in a debate at UNH in Durham hosted by MSNBC. The Union Leader is giving voters a chance to submit a question that they would like to have asked of the candidates. We also encourage you to join us in tweeting questions for the candidates to moderators @chucktodd, @maddow. And don’t forget to watch the debate live on MSNBC at 9 pm. on Thursday, February 4th.

On Saturday, February 6th, some (number is still undetermined) of the Republican candidates will participate in a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester hosted by ABC News. Join us in tweeting debate moderators @DavidMuir and @MarthaRaddatz with questions for candidates.

All of these things will help you to make an educated decision about the candidates and your issues when you go to vote on Tuesday, February 9th.

GROWING UP GRANITE

Come to YWCA NH in Manchester this Saturday, February 6th from 11 am – 2 pm as we co-host the first NH Primary Family Fun Day! FREE FUN for the whole FAMILY! Join us in counting down the waning days of this Primary Season!

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Granite State Rumblings: Protecting Children’s Healthcare Programs Both State and Federal

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The Children’s Health Insurance Program, CHIP, is often hailed as a model of a successful children’s health care program. It covers 8 million children who are not eligible for Medicaid and whose families cannot afford private insurance. In fact, research has found that since the program’s launch in 1997, the uninsured rate among U.S. children has fallen by half, from 14 percent in 1997 to 7 percent in 2012. ~ Source: The American Public Health Association

From its inception CHIP has enjoyed a large measure of bipartisan support. After all, who wouldn’t support insuring kids? As part of the Affordable Care Act, CHIP was authorized through 2019, though its funding was only extended through 2015. While federal legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate that would extend CHIP funding for an additional four years, given the state of national politics, its reauthorization this year has advocates and state governors worried.

Like Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program is funded jointly by the states and the federal government. Unlike Medicaid, CHIP insures children from families with higher income levels and comes with a significantly better federal matching rate. On average, the federal government pays 57 percent of the costs for Medicaid but 70 percent of the costs for CHIP.

How each state would be affected if CHIP is not renewed varies, since each state runs its program differently. Some states keep their CHIP programs wholly separate from Medicaid; other states have simply expanded Medicaid to encompass CHIP; still others operate a combination of the two depending on income levels.

The eight states that cover all CHIP recipients through Medicaid would see their federal assistance drop to Medicaid levels, costing them about $1 billion collectively, according to Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. Those states, which are politically diverse and include California, Maryland, South Carolina and New Hampshire, would be required to continue covering CHIP recipients because they’re a part of Medicaid, which is an unlimited entitlement program, not a limited block grant like CHIP.

The 14 states that operate totally separate programs, however, wouldn’t even have the benefit of funding reduced to Medicaid levels. Those states would have to pay the entire cost of the program, which would mean upwards of $5 billion. Since their programs are separate, these states are also not under obligation to continue covering CHIP recipients. For the remaining states, the budget implications vary wildly.

With federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program set to expire in September, children’s health advocates are calling on policymakers to take action on behalf of the millions of children at risk of losing access to affordable and comprehensive care. ~ Sources: Governing the States and Localities, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, First Focus.

GROWING UP GRANITE

The House Finance Committee has scheduled three public hearings on HB1 and HB2. These hearings provide an important opportunity for all Granite Staters to express the priorities, programs and services that they believe the state should be addressing and funding. Please turn out and offer your testimony to the members of the House Finance Committee. Taking two to three minutes to share your personal stories about the programs and services that support you and your family, that keep your children safe and healthy, that protect your aging parents, and help keep your community strong and vital are critical to help ensure that all Granite Staters have the same opportunities.

The first meeting will be held in Concord this Thursday, March 5th in Rep’s Hall from 4-7 p.m.

The second and third meetings will be held concurrently in Conway and Derry on Monday, March 9, from 5-8 p.m.

  • The Conway hearing will be held in the Kennet High School Auditorium, 409 Eagles Way, North Conway.
  • The Derry meeting will be held at Derry Town Hall, 14 Manning Street, Derry.

If you are unable to attend one of the hearings, then please consider sending your story to the committee via e-mail at: HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us

Here’s an editorial from the Concord Monitor that shows very clearly why your voice is needed at one of the Finance Committee hearings. New Hampshire cannot afford to leave federal funds on the table.

Editorial: Hold placed on federal grants is shortsighted
Sunday, March 1, 2015

Last week, the directors and staff of one agency after another, in a semblance of Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, cupped their faces in their hands and moaned, “Oh no, we’re Kurked.” And if the fiscally conservative chairman of the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee gets his way, thousands of low-income adults only recently insured under the state’s expanded Medicaid program will follow suit.

For the first time in memory, under Neal Kurk’s leadership, the fiscal committee placed a hold on millions of dollars in hard-won federal grants. The decision will delay some awards, and depending on the committee’s decision, potentially result in a decision not to accept some federal largesse. The number of holds is unprecedented and shortsighted.

State agencies and employees, hoping to meet needs they fear won’t get funded any other way, put a lot of effort into writing grants and securing outside funding. If they succeed only to learn that the committee, or down the line the Executive Council, declines to accept the money, willingness to go the extra mile to find outside money will wane. New Hampshire, which at about 71 cents on the dollar already gets back less of its federal tax payments in federal spending than almost every other state, will become even more the donor state.

Kurk believes the decision to accept federal funds should be made not grant by grant but in the context of the state’s budget process. But New Hampshire is one of a minority of states that still uses a biennial budget. That could lead to inordinate delays in decision-making and the provision of the services the grants were meant to meet.

What Republicans who agree with Kurk really fear is a stampede of agency-accepted Trojan horses, gifts that could commit the state to additional spending. As Senate President Chuck Morse told Monitor State House reporter Allie Morris, taking free money to buy a fire truck is one thing, but who will pay to staff it, fuel it and insure it?

Meanwhile, for want of a fire truck, the barn is lost.

The committee is holding up money that would pay to collect information on violent deaths in the state and, at a time when opioid drug use and overdose deaths are epidemic, an investigator for the state’s drug task force. Other grants on hold were awarded to promote child safety, improve mental health services and help schools develop emergency plans.

Whatever the ultimate fate of the grants, the committee’s hold on them will do less harm than a goal its Republican members hope to achieve: a refusal by the majority party to reauthorize the state’s decision to expand Medicaid to serve low-income adults who aren’t disabled, even though the federal government will pick up 90 percent of the tab.

That decision would cancel coverage for more than 20,000 newly insured residents and make it far harder for them to get non-emergency and preventive health care. That, in our view, is misguided to the point of being immoral. Virtually every other advanced nation considers access to health care a right, not a societal luxury.

The Republican goal, if met, will also mean the loss of more than $300 million per year in federal funds, assuming even more of those eligible sign up under expanded Medicaid. That’s money that won’t be providing health care for low-income New Hampshire residents and good-paying jobs for the people who provide their care.

Looking a gift horse in the mouth and saying “No” is one thing. Hay, after all, can get expensive.

But it’s quite another if that “No” means plowing less land and going hungry or freezing to death on the long walk to the doctor’s office.

Nashua Locals Hold “A Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming”

This week, I had the privilege of helping to organize and attend a great event in Nashua. The vigil was to show support for all of the refugees and immigrants coming to New Hampshire and many of our southern states.

Over the past few months, a group led by Jerry Delemus and the “912 project” have been traveling around our state, opposing immigration reform and using the thousands of child refugees as a backdrop to promote their hate-filled agenda.

After seeing their gathering on the Exit 6 overpass on one Saturday afternoon, I was personally outraged. Yes, there is a lot of political controversy surrounding the unaccompanied minors at the US border. But these children are not coming to America as immigrants – they are surrendering themselves to US Border agents as refugees from war torn countries, where oppressive governments and gangs are literally murdering children in the streets.

The sad fact is that some of these children are killed within a week of being deported back to their home country.

I connected with Representative Sylvia Gale (Nashua Ward 1) who gathered a group of immigration advocates to organize an event to show that real Granite Staters are not bigots using children for political purposes – but that, instead, we are a truly welcoming community.

 

The Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

Vigil 8

At the vigil, guests were asked to leave their own message on the sign.

“Bring us your tired…Your poor…Your huddled masses yearning to be free”
— Emma Lazarus

These are the immortal words inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. For many immigrants, like my great-grandparents, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes that America is truly a welcoming country.   No matter where you come from, or why you chose to come here, the United States welcomes you to seek your own version of the American Dream.

Around 50-60 people gathered on the steps of Nashua’s City Hall, directly under the ever-waving State of New Hampshire flag, to let the people of Nashua’s bustling downtown area know that we are tolerant and welcoming.

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

The plaza was filled with a variety of people including labor leaders, immigration activists, and elected representatives. Dozens of people came with their own hand-made signs with phases like, “No human is illegal” and “Immigration rights are civil rights”.

The vigil was opened with a prayer from Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church.   She talked about how “God made us all in his own image” and that we are all humans.

Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep. Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale gave a wonderful speech explaining why we need to show that New Hampshire and the United States are open and welcoming.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation.”

(Rep Gale’s full speech is included below)

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo of the Immigrant and Refugees Coalition and Janeth Orozco of Welcoming NH spoke about how we need to change the political messaging surrounding immigrants and refugees. Castillo said, “We are all human” and that “We should be open and welcoming of people and their cultures that have shaped our nation”.

Ray Ealey, a member of the New Fellowship Baptist Church, led the group in a rousing version of “We Shall Overcome.” All of the attendees gathered in a circle, held hands and sang out.

Rev. Tom Woodward gave the closing prayer and “Call to Action.”

While our elected leaders fight to overcome the gridlock in Washington D.C to pass meaningful immigration reform, we want everyone to know – despite what others may say – New Hampshire is a tolerant, welcoming community.

The differences in all of us are what make America the great nation it is today.

And New Hampshire has always welcomed people – no matter what color, what language, what religion, what circumstances – to come here and “Live Free.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Full Speech by Rep. Sylvia Gale

Thank you all for joining us this evening.   This event was conceived and came about as a result of the thoughts and actions of many of us who are gathered here, along with many others who are unable to join us.

We have been distressed and dismayed with the news of what has been happening at our nation’s southern most borders…..that of more than 60,000 children, many of them unaccompanied by any legal parent or guardian, making the dangerous and overwhelmingly difficult journey to find safety and comfort which can no longer be assured in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

These children, some as young as 4 or 6, are literally fleeing for their lives and have been sent by their families with the last desperate hope of being reunited with other family members who may already be somewhere in the United States.   They and their families know that there is no guarantee that they will be able to stay here, but yet they come, fleeing for their very lives. 

No longer, as in the past, are they only fleeing to escape the devastating poverty in their home countries, but now they come seeking protection and safety from the unimaginable violence in their homes and schools, with murder rates raging out of control due to the seemingly unstoppable drug cartels that appear to have exerted their rampant violence into every aspect of civic and community existence in those countries. 

And, as news of this flood of young and desperate refugees has spread across this great nation, we have been further alarmed and dismayed by the reactions of some of our fellow countrymen and women who have raised signs and slogans steeped in racism and bigotry and have loudly shouted, “Not Welcome Here……GO HOME…..

We are here tonight to lend our voices, our messages, and our commitment to carry on a dialogue for PEACE through Understanding which needs to once again become loud enough so that all members of our community can hear it.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation. 

We will drown out the voices of those who cling to hatred and bigotry, and we will continue to work…together…to achieve Peace through Understanding.

In order to honor all who have come before us, and all of those who have lost their lives struggling to find safety and freedom, we will now hold a time of silence for reflection, and to strengthen our resolve to do all that we can to exert our collective influence upon local, state, and national leaders to address the needs of not only these children, but of all of this nation’s newest arrivals……

(Moment of silence) 

To borrow from the poetic words of Emma Lazarus that are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, we say: “Give US your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free…..Here they should find safety and comfort, and be Welcomed…..

 

Granite State Rumblings: The High Cost Of Having Kids, and Why You Need To Vote

This was in my mailbox this morning and I thought I’d share it with you this week.

Parents Projected to Spend $245,340 to Raise a Child Born in 2013, According to USDA Report

Data shows lowest costs are in urban South and rural regions of the U.S., costs highest in urban Northeast

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual report, Expenditures on Children and Families, also known as the Cost of Raising a Child. The report shows that a middle-income family with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend about $245,340 ($304,480 adjusted for projected inflation*) for food, housing, childcare and education, and other child-rearing expenses up to age 18. Costs associated with pregnancy or expenses occurred after age 18, such as higher education, are not included.

While this represents an overall 1.8 percent increase from 2012, the percentages spent on each expenditure category remain the same. As in the past, the costs by location are lower in the urban South ($230,610) and rural ($193,590) regions of the country. Families in the urban Northeast incurred the highest costs to raise a child ($282,480).

“In today’s economy, it’s important to be prepared with as much information as possible when planning for the future,” said USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. “In addition to giving families with children an indication of expenses they might want to be prepared for, the report is a critical resource for state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments.”

The report, issued annually, is based on data from the federal government’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, the most comprehensive source of information available on household expenditures. For the year 2013, annual child-rearing expenses per child for a middle-income, two-parent family ranged from $12,800 to $14,970, depending on the age of the child.

The report, developed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), notes that family income affects child-rearing costs. A family earning less than $61,530 per year can expect to spend a total of $176,550 (in 2013 dollars) on a child from birth up to age 18. Middle-income** parents with an income between $61,530 and $106,540 can expect to spend $245,340; and a family earning more than $106,540 can expect to spend $407,820.

“Food is among the top three expenses in raising children,” said CNPP Executive Director Angela Tagtow. “Parents have the challenge of providing food that is not only healthful and delicious, but also affordable. We have great resources such as ChooseMyPlate.gov that features tips to help families serve nutritious and affordable meals. I encourage parents to check out our Healthy Eating On a Budget resources, 10-Tips Nutrition Series, recipes, and MyPlate Kids’ Place, which features digital games for kids to get engaged themselves in healthy eating.”

For middle-income families, housing costs are the single largest expenditure on a child, averaging 30 percent of the total cost. Child care and education was the second largest expense at 18 percent, followed by food, which accounted for 16 percent of the total cost.

“Variations by geographic region are marked when we look at housing, for example,” said study author and CNPP economist Mark Lino, Ph.D. “The average cost of housing for a child up to age 18 is $87,840 for a middle-income family in the urban West, compared to $66,240 in the urban South, and $70,200 in the urban Midwest. It’s interesting to note that other studies are showing that families are increasingly moving to these areas of the country with lower housing cost.”

In 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($198,560 in 2013 dollars) to raise a child until the age of 18. Housing was the largest child-rearing expense both then and now. Health care expenses for a child have doubled as a percentage of total child-rearing costs during that time. In addition, some common current-day costs, such as child care, were negligible in 1960.

Expenses per child decrease as a family has more children. Families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than families with two children. As families have more children, the children can share bedrooms, clothing and toys can be handed down to younger children, food can be purchased in larger and more economical quantities, and private schools or child care centers may offer sibling discounts.

The full report, Expenditures on Children by Families, 2013, is available on the web at www.cnpp.usda.gov. In addition, families can enter the number and ages of their children to obtain an estimate of costs with a calculator via the interactive web version of the report.

GROWING UP GRANITE

We have been spending a lot of time at candidate events the past couple of months. From the North Country to the Seacoast the ECM-NH staff has been sitting in American Legion Halls, at country orchards, in function halls, and town halls across the State. It has truly been a learning experience. One that I hope you are also taking advantage of as well. You never know from one event to the next what a candidate will say about an issue and how his or her answer and position may change. In case you can’t get to a candidate event, we are tweeting what we have been seeing and hearing. Are you following us? Our Twitter handle is @ECMNH.

All of this has been in preparation for the NH Primary on September 9th.

Are you aware that this great opportunity is coming to the city or town where you live?

Did you know that it is a FREE event?

Guess what? You don’t even need to do anything before that date to participate. You just need to be at least 18 years of age, a United States citizen, and live in the community where you intend to vote. Just show up at your polling place with proper identification and you can VOTE!

There’s even a webpage that can answer any questions you may have about how to participate!!

You already may have decided you’ve got other pressing plans for September 9th— plans that will keep you busy from dawn to dusk, or you are going to be out of state. Well there is still a way for you to participate. It is called an absentee ballot.

But in case you have a wee bit of time open that day, here’s a bit of history  from the Women’s Suffrage Publishing Company, dated 1916, as to why women especially, should make it a point to vote.

It wasn’t too long ago that we were not afforded that opportunity.

Twelve Reasons Why Women Should Vote

  • BECAUSE those who obey the laws should help to choose those who make the laws.
  • Because laws affect women as much as me.
  • Because laws which affect WOMEN are now passed without consulting them.
  • Because laws affecting CHILDREN should include the woman’s point of view as well as the man’s.
  • Because laws affecting the HOME are voted on in every session of the Legislature.
  • Because women have experience which would be helpful to legislation,
  • Because to deprive women of the vote is to lower their position in common estimation.
  • Because having the vote would increase the sense of responsibility among women toward questions of public importance.
  • Because public spirited mothers make public spirited sons.
  • Because about 8,000,000 women in the United States are wage workers, and the conditions under which they work are controlled by law.
  • Because the objections against their having the vote are based on prejudice, not reason.
  • Because to sum up all the reasons in one – IT IS FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF ALL.

VOTES FOR WOMEN
NATIONAL WOMAN SUFFRAGE. PUBLISHING CO, INC.
171 Madison Avenue, New York City

Mark your calendar today, so you won’t forget! Your Vote is your Voice!

Granite State Rumblings: Economic Hardships Can Have Lasting Effects On Children

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 6.58.12 PMA new report from Child Trends shows that just under half of children in the U.S. have had at least one of a series of major, potentially traumatic events associated with an increased risk of poor health and illness as adults. One in ten kids has experienced three or more of eight adverse childhood experiences included in the National Survey of Children’s Health, which was used for this study.

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being. The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences, including economic hardship, witnessing domestic violence at home, living with a divorced parent or guardian, and others, varies dramatically across the states. In Arizona, for example, more than one in four teens have lived with someone with alcohol or drug problems. In Kentucky, more than one in ten have lived with a parent or guardian who has been incarcerated. Some states have lower incidence, such as New Jersey, where more than 60 percent of kids have never had any of the experiences the survey measured.

Key findings of the report are;

  • Economic hardship is the most common adverse childhood experience (ACE) reported nationally and in almost all states, followed by divorce or separation of a parent or guardian. Only in Iowa, Michigan, and Vermont is divorce or separation more common than economic hardship; in the District of Columbia, having been the victim of or witness to violence has the second-highest prevalence, after economic hardship.
  • The prevalence of ACEs increases with a child’s age (parents were asked whether their child had “ever” had the experience), except for economic hardship, reported about equally for children of all ages, reflecting high levels of poverty among young families.
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs, exposure to neighborhood violence, and the occurrence of mental illness are among the most commonly-reported adverse childhood experiences in every state.
  • Just under half (46 percent) of children in the U.S. have experienced at least one ACE. In 16 states, a slight majority of children have experienced at least one ACE. In Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey, 60 percent or more of children have never experienced an ACE.
  • States vary in the pattern of specific ACEs. Connecticut and New Jersey have some of the lowest prevalence rates nationally for all ACEs, while Oklahoma has consistently high prevalence.

Researchers measured the prevalence of eight adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), consisting of whether the child ever:

  1. Lived with a parent or guardian who got divorced or separated;
  2. Lived with a parent or guardian who died;
  3. Lived with a parent or guardian who served time in jail or prison;
  4. Lived with anyone who was mentally ill or suicidal, or severely depressed for more than a couple of weeks;
  5. Lived with anyone who had a problem with alcohol or drugs;
  6. Witnessed a parent, guardian, or other adult in the household behaving violently toward another (e.g., slapping, hitting, kicking, punching, or beating each other up);
  7. Was ever the victim of violence or witnessed any violence in his or her neighborhood; and
  8. Experienced economic hardship “somewhat often” or “very often” (i.e., the family found it hard to cover costs of food and housing).

“The data show that these experiences are not rare, but their prevalence varies dramatically state-to-state,” said Vanessa Sacks, a research analyst at Child Trends and an author of the study. “For example, more than one in ten kids nationally has lived with someone who has an alcohol or drug use problem. In Montana, almost one in five children has, while in Georgia, it’s less than one in 10.”

How adverse experiences affect teens:

Researchers also examined the association between teenagers’ well-being and their history of adverse experiences. “Nationally, 15 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 have had three or more of the adverse experiences we looked at,” Sacks said. “These youth are not doing as well as their peers.”

Nearly half of teenagers who have had three or more adverse experiences have low levels of engagement in school, and more than 20 percent have repeated a grade. These youth are far more likely to argue a lot or even to bully or be cruel to others.

Action Steps

The report, which was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, calls for increased attention to the conditions in families and communities that contribute to the occurrence of adverse childhood experiences. It also suggests having more training of pediatricians, child welfare and juvenile justice caseworkers, family court judges, school personnel (including for early childhood), and others who work closely with children, for the early detection and treatment of children affected by trauma.

“Policymakers should review the prevalence of these experiences for their state,” Sacks said. “Once they know where the problems are most pronounced, they can begin to prioritize and address them.”

GROWING UP GRANITE

So how are Granite State children doing? The following is from Policy Blog NH, from the NH Center for Public Policy Studies.

Child well-being in NH: Where we rank

New Hampshire has long enjoyed the top spot in the annual Kids Count index, which ranks the relative health, safety, and education of children from state to state. But in the most recent ranking, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, New Hampshire fell from first to fourth among the states for child well-being.

What’s behind this drop?

First, let’s look at the workings behind the rankings. The Kids Count index is broken down into four categories: economic well-being; education; health; and family and community. Each category contains four measurements, and the index compares each state’s 2014 data to the data for the same measurements in 2005. In most areas, New Hampshire’s numbers improved or held steady from previous years.

But in one area of particular, the state saw drops across the board: economic well-being.

The measurements in this category include child poverty rate, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in a household with high housing cost burden, and teens out of school and not working. In each of those measurements, New Hampshire’s numbers are worse than in 2005.

The child poverty rate, in particular, saw a big change, according to the Kids Count data, which is based on the U.S. Census’s annual American Community Survey (ACS). The New Hampshire child poverty rate in 2012 was 15.6 percent, with a 2.1 percent margin of error, according to the ACS data. The previous year, the state child poverty rate was 12 percent. New Hampshire saw the largest single-year jump in child poverty rate of any state (though the margin of error for New Hampshire also among the largest, since the state has one of the smallest population of the states, and is thus more subject to fluctuations in the survey data.)

That the state’s poverty rate for children has increased is not news.  We can also consult data from the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program of the Census, which allows us to compare annual poverty rates over a longer period of time. Since 2003, New Hampshire has seen child poverty rate increase from an estimated 7.8 percent to 13.6 percent in 2012 – a roughly 74 percent increase.

Across that same time period, child poverty rates in the US generally increased by a relatively smaller amount: 28 percent.

The economic well-being measure may be the most important for the overall well-being and success of a child. Research indicates that living in poverty can impede a child’s cognitive development, and children from low-income households typically fare worse on measures of academic success, such as test scores and high school graduation rates.

There was also plenty of good news in the recent Kids Count data too. New Hampshire earned the top spot among the states in the family and community ranking, which takes into account measures such as the percent of children in single-parent families, children living in high-poverty areas, and teen births.

In the education category, which measured the percentage of children not in preschool, math and reading levels, and high school graduation rates, New Hampshire did quite well, also. In each of those measures, New Hampshire actually saw an improvement in every measurement since 2005. (New Hampshire’s full data profile can be found here.)

It’s important to note: In all but two of the index’s 16 data measurements, New Hampshire scored better than the national rate. The two places where New Hampshire lagged behind the rest of the country were in the percentage of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs (7 percent for New Hampshire, vs. 6 percent nationally) and the percentage of children in a household with high housing cost burden (39 percent for New Hampshire vs. 38 percent nationwide.)

New Hampshire is in a relatively high-ranking region of the country when it comes to child well-being. Two of our neighbors – Massachusetts and Vermont – shot past New Hampshire in the rankings and now occupy the first and second slots, respectively. Maine ranked 14th overall. Rounding out New England, Connecticut ranked 7th, and Rhode Island was at 26th place among the 50 states.

Groups Sue Federal Government Over Failure To Provide Legal Representation For Children Placed Into Deportation Proceedings

Gavel

Editor’s Note: This post comes from the American Immigration Council 

Washington D.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today Immigration Policy Center logofiled a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government’s failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.

Each year, the government initiates immigration court proceedings against thousands of children. Some of these youth grew up in the United States and have lived in the country for years, and many have fled violence and persecution in their home countries. The Obama Administration even recently called an influx of children coming across the Southern border a “humanitarian situation.” And yet, thousands of children required to appear in immigration court each year do so without an attorney. This case seeks to remedy this unacceptable practice.

“If we believe in due process for children in our country, then we cannot abandon them when they face deportation in our immigration courts,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. “The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone.”

The plaintiffs in this case include:

  • A 10-year-old boy, his 13-year-old brother, and 15-year-old sister from El Salvador, whose father was murdered in front of their eyes. The father was targeted because he and the mother ran a rehabilitation center for people trying to leave gangs.
  • A 14-year-old girl who had been living with her grandparents, but was forced to flee El Salvador after being threatened and then attacked by gang members.
  • A 15-year-old boy who was abandoned and abused in Guatemala, and came to the United States without any family or friends.
  • A 16-year-old boy born in Mexico who has lived here since he was 1 year old and has had lawful status since June 2010.
  • A 16-year-old boy with limited communication skills and special education issues who escaped brutal violence exacted on his family in Honduras, and who has lived in Southern California since he was 8 years old.
  • A 17-year-old boy who fled gang violence and recruitment in Guatemala and now lives with his lawful permanent resident father in Los Angeles.

All are scheduled to appear at deportation hearings without any legal representation and face a very real risk of being sent back into the perilous circumstances they left.

While the Obama Administration recently announced a limited program to provide legal assistance to some youth facing deportation hearings, this proposal does not come close to meeting the urgent need for legal representation for all children whom the government wants to deport. And there is no guarantee that additional funding proposed by the administration yesterday will materialize or meet the overwhelming need. In the meantime, children continue to appear alone in court every day.

“While our law firm, and others around the country, provide free legal services to children facing the injustice of appearing alone in court, we can help only a small fraction of the children in need,” said Theo Angelis, a partner at K&L Gates LLP.

Kristen Jackson, senior staff attorney with Public Counsel, a not-for-profit law firm that works with immigrant children, added, “Each day, we are contacted by children in desperate need of lawyers to advocate for them in their deportation proceedings. Pro bono efforts have been valiant, but they will never fully meet the increasing and complex needs these children present. The time has come for our government to recognize our Constitution’s promise of fairness and its duty to give these children a real voice in court.”

The complaint charges the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, Executive Office for Immigration Review, and Office of Refugee Resettlement with violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions requiring a “full and fair hearing” before an immigration judge. It seeks to require the government to provide children with legal representation in their deportation hearings.

“Deportation carries serious consequences for children, whether it is return to a country they fled because of violence and persecution or being separated from their homes and families. Yet children are forced into immigration court without representation – a basic protection most would assume is required whenever someone’s liberty is at stake. Requiring children to fight against deportation without a lawyer is incompatible with American values of due process and justice for all,” said Beth Werlin, deputy legal director for the American Immigration Council.

“It is simply unacceptable that children are forced to stand alone before an immigration judge, pitted against trained attorneys from the federal government,” said Matt Adams, legal director for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “Any notion of justice or fair play requires that these children be provided legal representation.”

The case, J.E.F.M. v. Holder, was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Wash.

  • The Complaint is available at: http://legalactioncenter.org/sites/default/files/Counsel%20Complaint.pdf

More information about this case is available here.

Granite State Rumblings: For Some Children Summer Is Not Fun In The Sun, It Means An Empty Belly

Image by USDA.GOV (Flickr CC)

Image by USDA.GOV (Flickr CC)

Summer is coming and children will soon be getting out of school. For many kids summer vacation means cook outs and family reunions to attend, with lots of food, and plenty of fun.

But for millions of low-income children, it means empty stomachs and uncertainty. They will lose access to school breakfast, lunch and afterschool meals that are available during the regular school year. So what happens to the children during the summer months when school is not in session?

The Summer Food Programs are there to fill this gap by providing free meals and snacks to children who might otherwise go hungry.

Many summer food sites provide educational enrichment and recreational activities along with meals and snacks, helping children continue to learn and stay safe when school is not in session. The meals provided through summer nutrition programs act as a magnet to draw children to these activities.

Schools can apply to operate the Seamless Summer Option through the National School Lunch (NSLP) or School Breakfast Programs (SBP). Continue the same meal service rules and claiming procedures used during the regular school year. Although the traditional Summer Food Service Program is still available to schools, the Seamless Summer Option offers a streamlined approach to feeding hungry children in your community.

Promoting summer feeding sites in your community is one of the most important things you can do to ensure no child goes hungry this summer.  The more parents, children, and teenagers know about where sites are located, the more children will come to eat.  Anyone can do outreach using the resources on the Summer Food Service Program site.  Sites, sponsors, community advocates, and volunteers can use a variety of tools to draw attention to summer meals.

A new report from FRAC shows that summer food participation is growing across the Nation:

In 2013, for the first time in a decade, the number of low-income children eating summer meals saw a substantial increase year-over-year, according to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, a new report released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Nearly three million children participated in the Summer Nutrition Programs on an average day in July 2013, an increase of 161,000 children, or 5.7 percent, from July 2012.

Not only did the number of low-income children eating summer meals grow, but there also was progress in reaching a higher proportion of children in need. FRAC measures the success of the Summer Nutrition Programs at the national and state levels by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving school lunch during the regular school year. The programs grew to serve 15.1 children for every 100 low-income children who participated in school lunch during the 2012-2013 school year, a modest increase from the 14.3:100 served in the 2011-2012 school year.

A good deal of the growth in summer food participation can be attributed to the leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack set the goal of providing five million more meals in the summer of 2013; the results show that USDA surpassed its goal, serving seven million more meals in 2013 than in 2012.

In short, this is encouraging news for families and communities across the nation. Summer meals are moving in a positive direction, but still only reach one in seven low-income children. Accelerating progress will further reduce the summer hunger gap. Looking ahead to the upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization, FRAC noted that Congress should make some key investments in the program, most notably looking at ways to help more areas qualify for the Summer Nutrition Programs—making the rules conform to those in other programs – and easing administrative requirements.

Share this report and help spread the word about summer food!

That’s It, REP ITSE Has To Go For Jeopardizing The Safety Of Our Children (HB 609)

I am outraged at State Rep Dan Itse and his new bill HB 609 that would allow teachers to carry loaded weapons at schools. Rep Itse, told AP reporter Norma Love that he submitted this legislation in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy.

This idea just sickens me! The idea that we should be encouraging our teachers to openly carry loaded weapons in our school. The place where we are trying our best to keep guns away from! Scott McGilvray, President of the NH chapter of the National Education Association said,

“It is both astounding and disturbing that following the recent tragedies, politicians and pundits who have spent little if any time in public schools have taken to the airwaves and to the State House floors to call for arming our teachers. (2)”

“As the rest of the country debates how to keep guns out of schools. In New Hampshire, we are actually proposing bringing more guns in. Guns have no place in our schools.”

This is asking for problems. Rep Itse is asking for more guns in our schools. This idea of more guns in our schools appalls me and I have not hidden that fact (see also The Last Thing We Need Is MORE Guns In Our Schools And State Houses). More guns in our schools mean a higher possibility of a child being shot accidentally. Dean Michener of the New Hampshire School Boards Association said, “the chances an armed teacher will hit a child are high.” This is an unacceptable risk to on our most prized possessions.

Michener also made reference to the study from New York where police officers involved in a ‘fire fight’ have an accuracy rating of only 18%. These are trained police officers who have mandatory training and marksmanship testing. Even with all of this testing and training, when an officer is being shot at, their accuracy rating drops to 18%. This alone is enough to say that a teacher should not be carrying a gun into any school. Teachers would not be required to have any training, any testing, or regulated requirements before they carry their loaded weapons into our schools. All a teacher would need is a licesene to carry a concealed weapon under Rep Itse’s proposed bill.

Rep Itse is trying to say that teachers need guns to protect themselves in the event of an armed gunman going through the school. To show you how crazy Itse is he said, “They (teachers) wouldn’t be hiding under their desks looking for a pair of scissors.” I assume that this is to stop the armed gunman. I guess Rep Itse did not read any of the stories of what educators at Sandy Hook did to protect the children all without guns, or scissors.

Why is Rep Itse not working to find ways to stop these events from happening. Instead he is wasting time creating laws that will only make tragedies in our school worse when they happen.

I am glad to see that Governor Hassan will not stand for this type of legislation. “The governor believes we must always be working to improve the safety of our schools and communities, but encouraging weapons in the classroom would put New Hampshire’s children at risk of harm,” said Marc Goldberg, Hassan’s press secretary.

I hope the voters in Fremont realize that this is the guy they voted in. The guy who wants to revive the NH Militia and put armed teachers in our schools. Hopefully the good people of Fremont will see what Rep Itse is doing in Concord and reject his extremist view for New Hampshire. Unfortunately we have to wait another year and a half till we can remove Rep Itse, however I will not forget this.

 

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