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Granite State Rumblings: The High Cost of Being Poor in New Hampshire

Anti-Poverty Programs Help Alleviate Costs, But More Must Be Done to Reduce Burdens

It is welcome news that the poverty rate in New Hampshire declined from 9.2 percent in 2014 to 8.2 percent in 2015 and declined nationally from 15.5 percent in 2014 to 14.7 percent in 2015.1 Sustained economic gains, strengthened by federal and state policies that increase income or reduce expenses, have finally begun to reach our low-income neighbors. 

The decline in poverty is good news, and with job growth continuing, we ought to be able to take steps to accelerate the pace of poverty reduction. But the precarious situation for the poor and near poor stands in the way of substantial progress. The fact is, it is expensive to be poor in the United States. New data released in September by the Census Bureau show that more than 106,000 adults and children remain in poverty in New Hampshire – and they need to pay every dime they have for necessities like rent, child care and groceries. They pay a premium for rent and food because of bad credit and inability to get to cheaper markets. Getting less value for their limited dollars, poor families are exposed to threats to health, child development, and employment. When expenses outstrip income, late fees and fines make things worse. For too many low-income Americans, predatory loans are a desperate attempt to stave off eviction or loss of a vehicle, leading instead to a trap of debt and poverty. While New Hampshire has restrictions against predatory payday lending, we must ensure this protection is not weakened, putting more Granite Staters at risk. 

The new Census Bureau data also show that effective anti-poverty programs, like housing assistance, child care subsidies, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) lift millions out of poverty and reduce the cost of poverty for millions more. But more needs to be done to reduce the burden of poverty even further, and for more Granite Staters living in and near poverty every day.

Progress to Build on

There were 2 million fewer poor people across the U.S. in 2015 than in 2014 and nearly 12,000 fewer poor Granite Staters. From 2011 to 2015, unemployment declined nationally from 10.3 percent to 6.3 percent. The proportion of Americans without health insurance plunged from 15.1 percent to 9.4 percent over the same five years. 

While communities of color in general saw substantial improvement, they remain disproportionately affected by poverty – and its associated costs. While 10.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. were poor in 2015, the poverty rate was 25.4 percent for African Americans and 22.6 percent for Latinos.2  

People aged 65 or older saw their poverty rate drop from 9.5 percent to 9.0 percent from 2014 to 2015 nationally, and in New Hampshire 6.1 percent of seniors were poor, statistically unchanged from the previous year. However, the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure counts income and expenditures more fully, and the differing budgets of seniors (such as more medical expenses) leads to a nationwide poverty rate of 13.7 percent for this group using this alternative measure.

3ecmnhreportChildren remain more likely to be poor in America than any other age group, with more than one in ten in poverty in New Hampshire in 2015 (10.7 percent), down from 13.0 percent in 2014. As with adults, children of color experience poverty at much higher rates that their white peers. In fact, African American and Latino children are roughly 2.5 times more likely to be poor than white children. In 2015, 12.5 percent of non-Hispanic white children in the U.S. lived in poverty, while 36.5 percent of African American and 30.5 percent of Latino children were poor.3 While their parents struggle to pay for necessities, children in poverty may pay in other ways, from damage to brain development to poorer physical and mental health, education and employment outcomes. 

Those with jobs are not immune – the Census Bureau data also show that in 58 percent of poor New Hampshire families, at least one person worked, although not always full time or year round. Even when work and other income helps people to live up to twice the poverty line (up to $37,742 for a family of three), most people recognize that making ends meet is not that easy for those this near poverty. Here, one in five Granite Staters are trying to get by with incomes this low. High costs affect them too, and may lead to the downward spiral to debt and poverty that the right policy choices can prevent. 

The High Cost of Being Poor

The poor pay more in many different areas of daily living. The Census data show that 61 percent of New Hampshire households with incomes less than $20,000 a year spend more than half of their income on rent alone.4  On average, low-income households face slightly higher food prices than other households face for the same basket of food,5 forcing them to choose lower quality items to reduce the cost. They get less for what they have to spend, and still end up spending a larger portion of their income on food than higher-income families.

The high cost of being poor is a major burden for all living in poverty, but for those in deep poverty – living below half of the federal poverty line – the burden is that much heavier to bear. For a family of four in 2015, the official poverty line was $24,257. According to the Census Bureau, 6.8 percent of Americans – 20.4 million people – live in deep poverty. Nearly 1 in 11 children is this deeply poor. That’s down from the previous year, but a higher proportion than in 2007, before the Great Recession. Locally, nearly 47,000 Granite Staters live in deep poverty.6 These families are especially prone to late fees for unpaid rent and eventual evictions, leading to frequent moves. Once they do find new housing, they often start out in the hole with a new landlord because they can’t afford the first and last month’s rent along with a security deposit.7  

2ecmnhreportTenants with evictions on their records can also be banned from affordable housing programs and often lose their only possessions as a part of the eviction.8 Young children living in poor housing conditions and/or subject to frequent moves or homelessness are more likely to suffer health problems. For example, a Boston area study found that infants and toddlers in low-income families that had moved two or more times in the past year were 59 percent more likely to be hospitalized than similar children in more secure housing.9 Rental vouchers limiting the amount low-income families pay for rent make a tremendous difference in child health, educational outcomes, and future earnings, but since 2004, the number of families with children receiving rental vouchers dropped by 250,000 nationwide (a 13 percent decline).10 Families do not have to be deeply poor to risk eviction, although they are likely to be among the quarter of low-income tenants across the U.S. who are paying at least 70 percent of their income on rent, and so are especially at risk of being unable to pay each month. However, even among New Hampshire households with incomes up to $35,000, 45 percent are paying half or more of their income on rent. 

Low-wage workers are more likely to lack paid sick days and paid leave, and they are less likely to have predictable work schedules, leaving them with even less money to cover expenses. Some gains for low-wage workers have been made in cities and states that have raised the minimum wage and adopted paid sick leave and other family-friendly policies, but not all states have taken these steps, and national standards leave too many low-wage workers out in the cold. Their struggle to pay rent each month can also take its toll on employment. The Milwaukee Area Renters Study found that workers leaving housing involuntarily were 20 percent more likely to lose their jobs afterwards than comparable workers who did not have to leave their dwellings.11  

Quality, affordable child care is critical for both the economic security of low-income parents, as it allows them to work, and for the development of children. Yet the cost puts quality child care out of reach for many families. The average cost in New Hampshire for an infant in a child care center is more than $11,800 a year; for an infant and a 4-year-old, it’s more than $21,250.12 A family at the poverty line with an infant and toddler in child care would therefore have to spend 88 percent of its income on child care, if paying the state average cost. Without a subsidy, low-income families have no choice but to make cheaper and often less reliable arrangements. 

Medical costs can have devastating effects on already-strapped family budgets. The Census data show that 11.2 million more people across the U.S. would be in poverty if out-of-pocket medical costs were taken into account, showing the importance of quality, affordable health insurance. Medical costs are even more of a burden for the poor in states that have not taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act option to use federal Medicaid dollars to expand health coverage to low-income adults. Low-income adults in the 19 states that have not made this move are uninsured at nearly twice the rates of those in states that have taken this step to expand coverage.13 They are too poor to qualify for health insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act, but are denied Medicaid, leaving them at even greater risk for overwhelming medical costs and, too often, forcing them to forgo necessary medical treatments. In New Hampshire, the percentage of uninsured people has remained unchanged from 2011 to 2015 at 6.2 percent.

With few other options, many low-income Americans in a majority of states feel they must turn to payday loans and similar practices to cover these higher expenses. Unfortunately, this leads to higher costs still. These predatory lenders target low-income Americans and communities of color – nearly half of payday borrowers have a family income of under $30,000. Nearly one in five borrowers relied on Social Security or some other form of government assistance.14 Payday lenders have been shown to be 2.4 times more concentrated in African American and Latino communities.15 Payday loan companies charge exorbitant interest rates – between 300 and 400 percent, on average, and fees that quickly rack up when borrowers are forced to take out loan after loan just to repay the previous loan. This traps the borrower in a cycle of debt. In fact, the average payday loan customer who borrows $400 for a loan to help them get by until their next paycheck winds up paying back $950 over 11 loan cycles in a year.16 In one-third of these cases, the borrower is forced to overdraw his or her checking account to pay off the loan, thereby incurring additional fees.17 Because of these abusive practices, New Hampshire has restrictions against payday lending. 

Vehicle title borrowers are similar to payday borrowers, but the consequences of failing to pay back a loan can be even more severe. One in five car title loan borrowers who agrees to repay the loan in a lump sum, plus interest and fees, loses his or her car,18 creating an even larger burden when he or she can’t get to work, to school or to the child care center. Every form of debt gets worse when it’s passed along to collection agencies. In December 2015, 18 percent of consumers in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in New Hampshire had debt in collections.19 

While the cost of poverty is extremely high for those in poverty, it is also high for our society as a whole. In fact, child poverty alone costs the U.S. economy an estimated $672 billion each year, or 3.8 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP).20 Child poverty results in a less-educated workforce, which reduces productivity and economic output years later. It raises the incidence – and cost – of crime, while also increasing physical and mental health costs. 

Effective Anti-Poverty Programs Reduce the Cost of Being Poor

The Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, which counts income sources such as federal tax credits and food and housing assistance, shows that federal programs increase incomes for millions of Americans, lifting them out of poverty and reducing the burdens of poverty for millions more. More than 9 million people were lifted out of poverty by low-income refundable tax credits in 2015 nationally; 2.5 million fewer were poor because of housing subsidies.21 Other analyses show that 16,000 Granite Staters were lifted out of poverty by low-income tax credits each year on average from 2011 to 2013 and 14,000 fewer were poor, each year on average from 2009 to 2011, because of housing subsidies.22 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program lifted 16,000 Granite Staters out of poverty each year on average from 2009 to 2011, and lifted 4.6 million Americans out of poverty in 2015. The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program served more than 8.6 million women, infants and children across the U.S. in 201323 and lifted 371,000 of them out of poverty last year. More than 21 million children nationally received free and reduced-priced lunch during the 2014-2015 school year through the National School Lunch Program,24 lifting 1.3 million people out of poverty.

Child care subsidies reduce the cost of care, allowing parents to go to work or school and providing children with quality educational experiences in the critical early years. Single mothers were more likely to be employed, more likely to be employed full time, and more likely to have stable employment when receiving child care subsidies.25 Nationally, families headed by single mothers with at least one full-time, year-round worker had a poverty rate of 11.5 percent, while similar families where workers only had part-time or part-year employment were five times as likely to be poor (55.3 percent rate).26

States that raised their minimum wage saw faster wage growth for low-wage workers in 2015 than states without an increase.27 More money in the pockets of low-income workers resulting from a higher minimum wage and more paid, predictable hours is better for workers, their families, and our economy.

But many of these effective programs do not reach enough of the people they are designed to help, and others, like SNAP, could do more good if their benefits were higher. Across the country, only one in four qualifying renters receives rental assistance because Congress has not provided enough funding.28 Nationally, only one in six low-income children who ate a school lunch during the regular 2014-2015 school year were reached by federal summer nutrition programs.29 More than 13 percent of New Hampshire households without children experienced food hardship in 2014-2015. Households with children in New Hampshire fared worse: 16.3 percent suffered food hardship over the same period.  

More than six out of seven children eligible to receive federal child care assistance nationally are not getting any help,31 and 2,300 New Hampshire children in need have lost access to child care since 2006,32 leaving families to struggle to pay for care or forego jobs to stay home and provide care. In addition, while the 2014 reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (the primary source of federal funding for child care subsidies for low-income working families) included many improvements that were long overdue, the bill did not include a guarantee of federal funding to implement the changes. This lack of funding threatens care for even more children.

1ecmnhreportThe Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), an extremely effective anti-poverty and pro-work tax credit, provides far less help to low-income workers who aren’t raising children. This group has an unenviable distinction as the only group of Americans who are taxed into poverty. Expanding the EITC to these workers would benefit up to 74,000 Granite Staters.33 Similarly, families with children earning under $3,000 a year are excluded from claiming the Child Tax Credit (CTC), denying help to children because their parents, despite working, are too poor. Expanding the CTC to these poorest children and families would benefit millions across the U.S. every year. 

Because predatory lending practices are so hurtful to low-income people, 14 states, including New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia have restrictions against payday lending, and the consumer watchdog agency the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a proposed rule in June to rein in predatory payday, car title, and certain high-cost installment loans. The proposed rule would require lenders to determine whether borrowers can afford to pay back their loans, known as the ability-to-repay requirement. While the CFPB proposed rule is a necessary first step, it contains loopholes pushed for by payday lenders that could hurt consumers in all states. For example, the proposal exempts six high-cost payday loans from the ability-to-repay requirement and doesn’t go far enough to ensure that, after repaying the loan, the borrower will have enough money left over to cover other basic living expenses without reborrowing.34 This leaves consumers in states that have restrictions against payday lending vulnerable, as a weak CFPB rule will give the payday lending industry a leg up in trying to get New Hampshire and other states to weaken or even undo their existing laws. Protections that have helped low-income people out of the debt trap could be eroded. 

We Can Further Reduce the Cost of Poverty

We can – and should – do more to further reduce the high cost of poverty on millions of Americans and close the ever-widening opportunity gap our children face. To achieve this goal, Every Child Matters in New Hampshire and the Coalition on Human Needs recommend the following:

  • Increase federal funding for housing subsidies and child care subsidies. As Congress continues its Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations process, it should increase funding to provide millions more low-income Americans in need with access to safe, stable housing and quality, affordable child care. One analysis estimates that an additional $1.2 billion investment is needed in FY17 funding to allow for full implementation of improvements contained in the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant without the loss of additional spots for children.35 Additional funding over FY16 levels is also needed to ensure existing housing vouchers keep pace with inflation and to expand the supply of vouchers for those left out in the cold. Beyond these immediate needs, proposals such as President Obama’s call for $82 billion over 10 years to fund child care assistance for children younger than four and $11 billion to end family homelessness by 2020 (providing housing for 550,000 families) should be implemented.
  • 6ecmnhreportExpand the Earned Income Tax Credit to workers not raising children and expand the Child Tax Credit to families making less than $3,000 a year. President Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are among the bipartisan supporters of expanding the EITC, so helping workers without dependent children should be a top priority for Congress. Congress should also act to ensure all low-income children benefit from the CTC.
  • Increase SNAP benefits and pass a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods. As part of the reauthorization, Congress should streamline and expand the summer food program, expand WIC eligibility for children not in full day kindergarten from age five to age six, reject attempts to deny free and reduced-priced meals to students in high-poverty schools, and reject attempts to block grant school meal programs. Congress should also protect SNAP from cuts, increase SNAP benefits to align with the cost of the Low-Cost Food Plan rather than the inadequate Thrifty Food Plan currently used, and end the harsh time limits on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults willing to work. 
  • States that haven’t yet expanded health coverage to low-income Americans by drawing down federal Medicaid dollars should do so. Governors of states that have continued to deny health coverage to low-income residents should end this costly failure to take advantage of federal dollars on the table to provide necessary health care to those who can least afford it. 
  • A strong rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, without loopholes, is needed to stop predatory lending, help low-income Americans break out of the dangerous debt trap, and ensure that consumers in states like New Hampshire where the practice is already restricted remain protected from these harmful practices. Low-income advocates should encourage the CFPB to strengthen the rule to protect all low-income consumers. The CFPB is accepting public comments on its proposed rule until October 7.
  • Raise the minimum wage and help workers get more paid hours through paid sick leave and more predictable hours. Low-wage workers need more hours and higher pay. The federal government, along with states that haven’t already done so, should increase the minimum wage and adopt paid leave requirements and predictable scheduling laws.

As Election Day draws nearer, we should be thinking hard about our priorities as a nation. Reducing poverty and the high costs of being poor clearly should be a top priority. The evidence from 2015 shows that proven anti-poverty programs like SNAP, housing assistance, and low-income tax credits are effective at lifting millions of people out poverty, reducing the costs associated with poverty and building family economic security. Other research and common sense tell us that child care, by helping parents to work and helping children to develop and thrive, can spur poverty reductions over two generations. But as overall poverty and child poverty rates in New Hampshire remain higher than in 2007, before the Great Recession,36 we must invest more to reduce the burden of poverty even further, and for more Granite Staters. And if we are concerned about trapping people in poverty, we need to maintain strong protections against harmful practices and state policies that place unnecessary burdens and requirements on low-income people that aim to keep them down. 


This report was prepared by Every Child Matters in New Hampshire and the Coalition on Human Needs.

  1.   U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, released September 15, 2016, http://www.census.gov
  2.   U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, released September 15, 2016, http://www.census.gov 
  3.   U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, released September 15, 2016, http://www.census.gov 
  4.   U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, released September 15, 2016, http://www.census.gov 
  5.   U.S. Department of Agriculture, http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/921672/aer759.pdf 
  6.   U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, released September 15, 2016, http://www.census.gov
  7.   “The Eviction Economy” by Matthew Desmond, as printed in The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/06/opinion/sunday/the-eviction-economy.html 
  8.   “Poor Black Women Are Evicted at Alarming Rates, Setting Off A Chain of Hardship,” by Matthew Desmond, for the MacArthur Foundation, https://www.macfound.org/media/files/HHM_Research_Brief_-_Poor_Black_Women_Are_Evicted_at_Alarming_Rates.pdf 
  9.   Children’s HealthWatch, http://www.childrenshealthwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/MAhousing_brief_Oct2012.pdf
  10.   Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, http://www.cbpp.org/research/housing/rental-assistance-to-families-with-children-at-lowest-point-in-decade 
  11.   University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Research on Poverty, http://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/fastfocus/pdfs/FF22-2015.pdf 
  12.   Child Care Aware of America, http://usa.childcareaware.org/advocacy-public-policy/resources/reports-and-research/costofcare/ 
  13.   The Commonwealth Fund, http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2016/aug/who-are-the-remaining-uninsured and U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey Health Insurance Coverage, released September 13, 2016, http://www.census.gov/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-257.html
  14.   Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/Rulemaking_Payday_Vehicle_Title_Certain_High-Cost_Installment_Loans.pdf 
  15.   Center for Responsible Lending, http://responsiblelending.org/research-publication/predatory-profiling-0 
  16.   Stop the Debt Trap Coalition, https://medium.com/@stoppaydaypreds/five-things-you-need-to-know-about-payday-lending-d30a94ddcd44#.7m5gyyyt8 
  17.   Center for Responsible Lending, http://www.responsiblelending.org/payday-lending/research-analysis/finalpaydaymayday_defaults.pdf 
  18.   Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/Rulemaking_Payday_Vehicle_Title_Certain_High-Cost_Installment_Loans.pdf 
  19.   FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax data, tabulated by the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Minneapolis and accessed via the Consumer Credit Explorer (accessed Sept. 2016). https://www.philadelphiafed.org/eqfx/webstat/index.html 
  20.   https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/11114756/ChildAllowance-report.pdf 
  21.   U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 Supplemental Poverty Measure, released September 13, 2016, http://www.census.gov/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-258.html 
  22.   Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, http://www.cbpp.org/blog/state-data-on-safety-nets-impact-in-one-place
  23.   Food Research and Action Center, http://frac.org/pdf/cnr_primer.pdf 
  24.   Food Research and Action Center, http://frac.org/federal-foodnutrition-programs/national-school-lunch-program/ 
  25.   Center for Law and Social Policy, http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/publication-1/CCDBG-Advocacy-Fact-Sheet.pdf 
  26.   U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 Current Population Survey, released September 13, 2016, http://www.census.gov/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-256.html
  27.   Economic Policy Institute, http://www.epi.org/publication/wages-grew-more-for-low-wage-workers-in-states-that-raised-their-minimum-wage-in-2015/ 
  28.   Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, http://www.cbpp.org/research/housing/policy-basics-federal-rental-assistance 
  29.   Food Research and Action Center, http://frac.org/federal-foodnutrition-programs/summer-programs/ 
  30.   Food Research and Action Center, http://frac.org/pdf/food-hardship-report-households-with-children-sep-2016.pdf
  31.   U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/153591/ChildEligibility.pdf 
  32.   Center for Law and Social Policy, http://www.clasp.org/issues/child-care-and-early-education/in-focus/child-care-assistance-spending-and-participation-in-2014 
  33.   Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/strengthening-the-eitc-for-childless-workers-would-promote-work-and-reduce 
  34.   Stop the Debt Trap Coalition, http://stopthedebttrap.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/stdt_payday_proposed_rule_works_jun2016.pdf 
  35.   Center for Law and Social Policy, http://www.clasp.org/issues/child-care-and-early-education/in-focus/child-care-assistance-spending-and-participation-in-2014 
  36.   U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, released September 15, 2015, calculations by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 

Support Our Local Community Non-Profits: The NH Labor News’s Suggestions For #GivingTuesday

giving_tuesday_logostackedToday is Tuesday, December 1st, 2015.  Not only is it my birthday – Thank You – but it is #GivingTuesday.  #GivingTuesday is a relatively new tradition following #BlackFriday, #SmallBusinessSaturday, and #CyberMonday.

#GivingTuesday is intended to inspire you to give something back this holiday season.  There are millions of great organization out there doing amazing work on a variety of issues.  These organization tend to be very lean because as non-profits they do not have a boatload of funds to fuel their agenda.

Donations to a Non-Profit are also tax deductible. Double bonus.  Unfortunately the NH Labor News is not a non-profit charity so if you choose to make a donation to us you cannot write it off on your taxes.

To help narrow down the monstrous list of possible places you can donate to I have compiled a short list of NH based non-profits, with links to their websites.  I have worked with each and every one of these groups on different campaigns over the last six-years.  (In no particular order.)

Special Note: Some of the groups listed below have sent out emails stating that if you act today, #GivingTuesday, your donation will automatically be matched by an anonymous contributor.  If you miss the double matching, it is ok, they will still be happy to receive your donation.

Granite State Progress: An all encompassing organization that monitors the NH Legislature.  Led the fight against ALEC in our state house, transparency in our legislative process, higher minimum wage, blocking Right To Work and more. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

The NH Citizens Alliance: A champion of low-wage workers, women’s rights and all Granite Staters.  Pushing for equal pay, higher minimum wage, paid sick time and more. They have also launched a new campaign #StandWithWomen to guarantee full and fair opportunities for women to succeed and take care of their families. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

The AFSC- New Hampshire: For 40 years Arnie Alpert has been fighting Right To Work in the NH Legislature. This Quaker organization is dedicated to helping working families as well has making the world a better place.  Fighting for social and economic justice and bringing back the founding principles of our democracy. If you have not already you must sign up for their State House Watch! (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

MIRA: The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) is the largest organization in New England promoting the rights and integration of immigrants and refugees. Eva Castillo is the NH director and together with help from the NH Labor News and other community activists we hosted a welcoming vigil for refugee children last year. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

League of Women Voters: The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

The NHFPI: the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England: PP offers low-cost or even free healthcare to thousands of Granite State women. Preventative medicine is the best medicine.   (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Every Child Matters Education Fund of NH: ECMEF is a non-partisan, non-profit focused on improving the lives of our future generation by ensuring they get a quality education.  They lobby for early childhood education and expanding public school.  Along with education, ECM pushes back against cuts to programs designed to help combat poverty. ECMEF-NH Director MaryLou Beaver is also a feature commentator on the NH Labor News with her weekly Granite State Rumblings update.  (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Second Wind Foundation for Pulmonary Fibrosis: A charity organization to help people suffering with the little known, life threatening disease, Pulmonary Fibrosis.  The organization was started when my good friend Ron Geoffroy’s wife, Marylou, was diagnosed with PF. After her passing, Ron continues to lead the organization and help others who are suffering with PF. (CLICK HERE TO DONATE)

Whether you give $5 or $500 dollars, every dollar is appreciated.  

Please make a contribution to any or all of these great groups and let them know that Matt from the NH Labor News sent you

Granite State Rumblings: Budget Agreement Ups And Down – We Must End The Sequester

Congress West Front Last week Congress passed a budget proposal that locks in funding for the next two years.

It also did several other important things:

In addition to providing more funding that can be used for children’s programs by significantly curtailing for the next two years the “sequester” cuts, that were enacted in 2013, the agreement prevents a 20% cut in disability benefits that some children receive, and it protects the program for the next several years.

Additionally, this agreement ends the threat of government shutdowns and defaulting on the federal government’s debt for the next two years.

These events would have damaged the American economy and threatened jobs.

To see what else the deal entails click here.

On Monday morning President Obama signed the agreement. Here are his remarks:

Remarks by the President at Signing of the Budget Act of 2015

Oval Office

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, last week, Democrats and Republicans came together to set up a responsible, long-term budget process, and what we now see is a budget that reflects our values, that grows our economy, creates jobs, keeps America safe.

It’s going to strengthen the middle class by investing in critical areas like education and job training and basic research.  It keeps us safe by investing in our national security and making sure that our troops get what they need in order to keep us safe and perform all the outstanding duties that they do around the world.  It protects our seniors by avoiding harmful cuts to Medicare and Social Security.  And it’s paid for in a responsible, balanced way — in part, for example, by making sure that large hedge funds and private equity firms pay what they owe in taxes just like everybody else.

And by locking in two years of funding, it should finally free us from the cycle of shutdown threats and last-minute fixes. It allows us to, therefore, plan for the future.

So I very much appreciate the work that the Democratic and Republican leaders did to get this to my desk.  I think it is a signal of how Washington should work.  And my hope is now that they build on this agreement with spending bills that also invest in America’s priorities without getting sidetracked by a whole bunch of ideological issues that have nothing to do with our budget.

So this is just the first step between now and the middle of December, before the Christmas break.  The appropriators are going to have to do their job; they’re going to have to come up with spending bills.  But this provides them the guidepost and the baseline with which to do that.  And I’m confident that they can get it done on time.  And there’s no better Christmas present for the American people because this will allow the kind of stability and will allow the economy to grow.  At a time when you’ve got great weakness in economies around the world, this puts us on a responsible path and it makes sure that the American people are the beneficiaries.

So I very much appreciate the work.  Let’s keep it going.  With that I’m going to sign it.

(The bill is signed.)

And I want to thank, in particular, the staffs of both Democratic and Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate because they worked overtime to get this done.  I want to thank my own staff — in particular, Katie Fallon and Brian Deese, who are standing in the back.  They gave up a bunch of lost weekends to make this happen, but they did an outstanding job.  And we’re very proud of them.

Thank you very much, everybody.

While the Every Child Matters Education Fund believes that the federal government needs a comprehensive approach, with significant new resources, to address the 16 million children and youth living in poverty who lack a fair shot at success in life, we support this budget agreement and are pleased that the President has signed it.

This agreement is good step in the right direction toward limiting the harmful effects of the sequester cuts. In recent years budget cuts have put enormous pressure on programs that support children and families. According to experts, overall domestic funding is set to force investments in domestic programs to historic lows over the next few years as a percentage of the economy. Yet while this budget deal will not undo these cuts, the deal eliminates 90 percent of the harmful sequester cuts that would have taken effect in fiscal year 2016 and 60 percent of the cuts that would have taken effect in fiscal year 2017 without action.

We asked you to write, e-mail, and call your Members of Congress with the message that the harmful sequester cuts must end. Your actions helped to convince them to vote for this budget agreement.

Budget Act of 2015 votes:

NH – Senator Ayotte, Senator Shaheen, Congresswoman Kuster – AYE

NH — Congressman Guinta – NAY

ME – Senator Collins, Senator King, Congresswoman Pingree,

ME — Congressman Poliquin – AYE

Thank you for taking action!

But our work is not finished.

As our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs point out:

Appropriators in Congress will now begin to divvy up these new top-line dollar figures for the different departments in the federal government and draft legislation that must pass by December 11 when the current government funding runs out. There will be many challenges along the way – both in terms of making sure the money we’ve all fought so hard for goes to the programs that need it, and that no ideological policy changes (known as riders) harm human needs programs or stop the legislation in its tracks and cause a government shutdown.

Advocates across the country need to continue to weigh in with their members of Congress to ensure that we cross the finish line with a funding package that does the most it can to meet the needs of human needs programs and our neighbors they serve.

We will keep you updated as the appropriations process moves forward.


GROWING UP GRANITE

The excerpt below is from the Introduction of a new report from the Center for American Progress by Danielle Ewen and LeighAnn M. Smith.

Fostering School Success with Standards for Nonacademic Skills

When we look at a newborn, we rarely think about the child’s potential for success and skills development for college and career readiness. Instead, we are awed by the baby’s mere existence: her strong grip; her smile; how her eyes track loved ones; how each cry communicates a need to be met. We now know that each of these moments is also an opportunity for the child’s brain to grow; to make new social, emotional, and cognitive connections; and to form important neurological pathways.

As children move from infancy to toddlerhood and into preschool, their brains continue to grow and change. Parents, caregivers, and other trusted adults provide input that helps children master the basic skills they will need in order to climb slide ladders, hold pencils to spell their names, excitedly tell the story of their day, and understand when they are asked to put their toys away.

As children move into kindergarten and first and second grades, they begin to build on these earliest social, emotional, physical, and academic skills. They learn to read and do math; to play with their friends; and to follow rules in the classroom and on the playground. Each new milestone sets these children on the path to college and career readiness.

New evidence highlights the importance of social and emotional skills alongside academic skills for success in school and beyond. Academic skills—including basic literacy and math skills—are well defined and include skills such as learning the alphabet and counting. Social and emotional skills, meanwhile, include sharing, self-control, and building relationships with peers and adults. Yet, when states look to align early learning standards with those for K-12, social and emotional skills are often left out of the standards for children in elementary, middle, and high school—even as new research highlights the importance of these skills throughout elementary school and beyond.

This report explores the reasons for including social and emotional learning in early education standards, as well as detail about the five domains of learning—cognition, approaches to learning, social and emotional development, physical development, and language development—and how several states have incorporated them into their learning standards. By using these examples as guidelines for their own educational standards, other states can align early learning guidelines with standards for K-12 in order to support academic and social-emotional skills for all children.

The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy is hosting viewing parties for the broadcast premier of Raising NH this Thursday, November 5th.

Can you come?

WHAT: “Raising New Hampshire” watch parties
WHEN: This coming Thursday night, Nov 5th at 8pm
WHERE: Concord, Manchester, Wolfeboro, Salem, and more.
RSVP NOW!

This fascinating new special produced by NH Public Television and the Endowment for Health delves into the ways New Hampshire’s kids and parents are impacted by the early education system – what’s working, what’s not, and how it can be fixed.

It’s a must-see for anyone who cares about the next generation of Granite Staters.  And the discussion is going to be great.

RSVP to join us for a free screening near you right now.

There are watch parties confirmed in Concord, Manchester, Salem and Wolfeboro– and we’re adding more every day. Be sure to invite your friends and family to come along.

See the screening locations and sign up for a watch party today.

Granite State Rumblings: Strong Bi-Partisan Support For Early Childhood Education Programs

The Presidential candidates are roaming the hills, to the valleys, to the seacoast of New Hampshire. They are being asked a lot of questions on their stances on everything from Social Security and Medicare to climate change. But the one issue that I seldom hear asked of them on the campaign trail is their stance on early childhood education.

And yet, a new bipartisan poll released last week by the First Five Years Fund finds that 76 percent of voters express support for a proposal that would provide 10 billion federal dollars per year for 10 years in state grants to provide low- and middle-income four-year-olds with access to high quality pre-K programs.

As Aaron Lowenberg writes for New America EdCentral, “At a time when partisan polarization seems to have reached a fever pitch, what’s surprising about the poll results is just how bipartisan the support for investment in early education seems to be. The 76 percent of poll respondents who express support for increased federal investment in early childhood education include 59 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Independents, and 94 percent of Democrats. Majorities of every partisan persuasion also express support for making early education and child care more affordable, helping states and local communities build better pre-K services, improving early learning programs for infants and toddlers, and providing home visiting and parent education programs to first-time parents.”

He goes on to write:

More than two-thirds of voters express the belief that children currently enter kindergarten lacking the skills and knowledge needed for success. And despite the current climate of fiscal austerity, 74 percent of poll respondents express support for increased early childhood investment even if it increases the deficit in the short-term but pays for itself in the long-term. Multiple studies have shown that this is completely plausible because the return on investment for early childhood education is so high: the programs pay for themselves in the long run by improving children’s education, health, and economic situations so that less government spending is needed later.

A few other findings stand out from the poll results that should grab the attention of candidates running for public office. Fifty-four percent of voters report that they would feel more favorable towards a candidate who supports increased federal investment in early childhood education as opposed to only six percent of voters who would think less favorably of a candidate who supports such investment. Finally, a majority of the most critical swing voter groups report feeling more favorable towards candidates who back increased investment in early education, including Hispanics, Millennials, moderates, and Independent women.

This new poll makes clear there is widespread, bipartisan support for increased investment in high-quality early childhood programs.  At a time when many presidential candidates are struggling to build a winning coalition, candidates would be wise to start talking more about one issue that Americans can agree on regardless of party: the importance of early childhood education.

gsroctober15Here are the key points from the poll:

  • Voters say children getting a strong start in school and education are the best ways to strengthen the middle class.
  • There is continued support for investments in enabling states and communities to provide early childhood education opportunities. Support is evident across the partisan spectrum.
  • In fact, voters would prioritize early childhood education over college.
  • Majority is favorably impressed by a presidential candidate who supports such an approach on early childhood education.

It is clear that voters understand the value of early childhood education and want to see the federal government invest in programs at the state and local levels. Will you help us deliver this message to the Presidential candidates?

We’ll tell you how below.

Growing Up Granite

We Know You Support Kids –
Help Us Hear How the Presidential Candidates will Support Kids

Each Presidential Candidate has been invited to a Candidate Forum at UNH to answer questions related to children, youth and families.

What:  Single Candidate Forums on Children, Youth and Families

Hosts:  Every Child Matters in New Hampshire, MomsRising, and The Department of Social Work at the University of New Hampshire

When:  November and December – dates to be determined

Where:  University of NH, Durham, NH

Each candidate will be encouraged to spend time talking about their plans to ensure every child has the opportunity to grow up healthy, safe, and well educated; and their policies that will support a family friendly workplace and economy.

Here’s What We Need You to Do!!

Tweet the candidates and ask them to participate in an ECMNH/MomsRising/UNH Candidate Forum.

Sample Tweets:

.@marcorubio We want you at an @ECMNH @MomsRising forum on child & family issues in NH http://bit.ly/1GpPaf5 #VoteKids #MomsVote                 (CLICK HERE TO TWEET)

.@hillaryclinton We need your voice on kids & families in an @ECMNH @MomsRising forum in NH http://bit.ly/1GpPaf5 #VoteKids #MomsVote                 (CLICK HERE TO TWEET)

.@martinomalley NH wants to hear your policies on kids & families at an @ECMNH @MomsRising forum http://bit.ly/1GpPaf5 #VoteKids #MomsVote                (CLICK HERE TO TWEET)

.@jebbush Granite Staters want you at an @ECMNH @MomsRising forum on kids & families in NH http://bit.ly/1GpPaf5 #VoteKids #MomsVote                (CLICK HERE TO TWEET)

Candidate Twitter handles:

Hillary Clinton — @hillaryclinton
Martin OMalley — @martinomalley
Bernie Sanders — @berniesanders
Jeb Bush — @jebbush
Ben Carson — @realbencarson
Chris Christie — @chrischristie
Ted Cruz — @tedcruz
Carly Fiorina — @carlyfiorina
Lindsey Graham — @grahamblog
Mike Huckabee — @govmikehuckabee
Bobby Jindal — @bobbyjindal
John Kasich — @johnkasich
George Pataki — @governorpataki
Rand Paul — @randpaul
Marco Rubio — @marcorubio
Rick Santorum — @ricksantorum
Donald Trump — @realdonaldtrump

Please help us to get the candidates talking about the issues that affect children, youth, and families by inviting them to participate in a forum. We’ll be sure to let you know the minute we get a response.

Despite Some Progress, Too Many Granite Staters Are Still Being Left Behind

1-8 NH Poverty

Concord, NH: Data released by the Census Bureau last month show that poverty remains stubbornly high. In New Hampshire, 9.2 percent of people (1 in 10) were poor in 2014 – roughly the same number as in 2013 when 8.7 percent were poor. The child poverty rate also rose, with 13 percent (1 in 8) of New Hampshire children living in poverty in 2014 – an increase from 2013 when 10.2 percent of our children were poor.

“In order to cut child poverty in New Hampshire we need to maintain and expand investments in programs with proven success in helping move people out of poverty,” said MaryLou Beaver, director of Every Child Matters in New Hampshire. “Human needs programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) lifted 16,000 Granite Staters, including 8,000 children, out of poverty each year, on average, during 2011 to 2013. But if Congress does not act, funding cuts scheduled to take effect this fall will threaten to leave more New Hampshire children and their families behind.”

Today Every Child Matters in New Hampshire and the Coalition on Human Needs are releasing a report (attached) based on the Census Bureau data. Every Child Matters in New Hampshire reached out to our four Members of Congress for their reaction to this report. Here are the comments from those who responded by our deadline:

Senator Jeanne Shaheen: “This report shows that many federal programs are working to lift New Hampshire families out of poverty. We need to end sequestration and reach a budget deal that will strengthen these programs, not cut them as the latest Republican budgets have.”

Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster: “This study reminds us all that we must keep fighting to help the most vulnerable among us. I will continue my work in Congress to protect funding for vital programs that Granite State families desperately need, such as SNAP, Head Start, Housing Choice vouchers, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. We must ensure that every New Hampshire child has the support they need to grow and succeed.”

Congressman Frank Guinta: “I’ve served New Hampshire as a state rep and alderman, as Manchester’s mayor and now U.S. congressman. I’ve had the opportunity to meet families facing economic challenges and present solutions at both the local and federal levels. Every Child Matters in New Hampshire is shining a spotlight on this issue of vital importance. Their report shows the need for increased focus on the immediate challenges of poverty, as well as the need to address its underlying causes, in order to help current and future generations succeed.”

“New Hampshire continues to recover from the Great Recession, but progress is too slow” said Beaver. “It’s not too late for Congress to change course, however, and end sequestration. Increasing investments in safe and secure housing and to programs like Head Start will give these children a better foundation for success and will benefit New Hampshire and our country as a whole in the future. And Congress can do so without cutting safety net programs like SNAP, EITC, CTC and Medicaid. The choice is theirs’.”

Read the full report here


NH 2015 Census Report with Infographics -2


Every Child Matters in New Hampshire is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization working to make public investments in children, youth, and families a national political priority. For more information visit our website at www.everychildmatters.org

The Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) is an alliance of national organizations working together to promote public policies which address the needs of low-income and other vulnerable populations. For more information visit our website at http://www.chn.org/

Granite State Rumblings: May Is National Foster Care Month, Working To Find Permanent Homes For Thousands Of Children

foster-care-month

May is National Foster Care Month, a month set aside to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections.

The focus of this year’s initiative is supporting youth in transition through creating meaningful connections, partnering with youth, advancing permanency options, and preparing youth for successful transitions to adulthood. During National Foster Care Month and all year, please think about ways we can work toward ensuring a bright future for the more than 400,000 children and youth in foster care. National Foster Care Month is a great time to celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.

Throughout its 100-year history, the Children’s Bureau –  the first federal agency within the U.S. government—and in fact, the world—to focus exclusively on improving the lives of children and families – has worked to assist children and youth in foster care; engage youth in decisions that affect their lives; and support foster families, kinship caregivers, child welfare professionals, and others who help these children.

At the turn of the last century, conditions for children in America looked very different from today. More than 1 in 10 infants did not survive their first year. Many children left school to help support their families, often working in dangerous conditions. Orphans were crowded into large institutions, where they received little care or attention.

Lillian D. Wald, founder of the Henry Street Settlement in New York City, and her friend Florence Kelley are credited with conceiving the idea for a Federal agency to promote child health and welfare in 1903. Impressed with the idea, a friend of Wald’s wired President Theodore Roosevelt, who promptly invited the group to the White House to discuss it further. The journey to create the Children’s Bureau had begun.

Many years of nationwide campaigning by individuals and organizations followed. Eleven bills, eight originating in the House and three in the Senate, met with failure between 1906 and 1912. In 1909, President Roosevelt convened the first White House Conference on Children. This meeting brought together social workers, educators, juvenile court judges, labor leaders, and other men and women concerned with children’s well-being, who collectively endorsed the idea of a Federal Children’s Bureau.

In 1912, Congress passed the Act creating the Children’s Bureau and charged it “to investigate and report . . . upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people.” President William Howard Taft signed the bill on April 9, 1912. The bill included an initial appropriation of $25,640.

  • Before the creation of the Children’s Bureau in 1912, child welfare and foster care were mainly in the hands of private and religious organizations.
  • In 1919, the Children’s Bureau published Minimum Standards of Child Welfare, which affirmed the importance of keeping children in their own homes whenever possible and, when that was impossible, providing a “home life” with foster families.
  • In 1923, the Children’s Bureau published Foster-Home Care for Dependent Children, an acknowledgment of the growing preference for foster family care over institutional care.
  • During World War II, when more than 8,000 children were evacuated from Europe to the United States, the Children’s Bureau oversaw their temporary placement in U.S. foster homes.
  • The Children’s Bureau published a draft list of “The Rights of Foster Parents” in the May 1970 issue of its journal Children. That same year, the Children’s Bureau sponsored the National Conference of Foster Parents.
  • In 1972, the Children’s Bureau sponsored—and President Nixon proclaimed—National Action for Foster Children Week to raise awareness of the needs of children in foster care and recruit more foster parents. The following year, Children published “The Bill of Rights for Foster Children.”
  • In 1988, President Reagan issued the first presidential proclamation that established May as National Foster Care Month.

The National Foster Care Month website shares techniques and strategies that support foster parents’ efforts to strengthen families, keep children connected, and promote a sense of normalcy for youth while they’re in foster care. Learn more:
https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/resources/parents.cfm

“There are few things more vital to the welfare of the Nation than accurate and dependable knowledge of the best methods of dealing with children…”
– President Theodore Roosevelt.

GROWING UP GRANITE

Foster care and adoption services information in New Hampshire falls under the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Children, Youth and Families. The following is from their website.

The children in foster care come from family situations where they have experienced either neglect or sexual, emotional or physical abuse. They range in age from birth to age 18. Some of the youth are children in need of supervision or are delinquent youth. Domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness may be a part of the family’s history. Children involved with foster care and adoption usually attend the local public school and most children need the opportunity to participate in normal childhood activities in the community.

In New Hampshire, there are approximately 700 children served in foster family care in a given year.

What is Foster Care?

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Division for Children, Youth, & Families (DCYF) investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. If the assessment indicates a child’s safety are at risk, DCYF petitions the court to have the child removed from their family and placed in a safe, caring, temporary environment. The child may move to a relative’s home or a foster home. There are several types of foster family care. Some are administered by the public agency, DCYF, while private child placing agencies administers others. Basic foster family care is called General Care, and there are also other types of care including Specialized, Emergency, Crisis and Independent Service Option.

Foster families provide homes for children whose families are unable or unwilling to care for them. Every effort is made to help the child remain with his or her family. Foster parents are asked to provide a supportive atmosphere while the biological parents, agency staff, and foster parents work on individual and family issues.

The temporary and complex nature of foster care places special demands on foster parents. They are asked to take someone else’s child into their home, care for the child, and treat the child as a member of their family. The Foster Care Program provides the necessary support and training to enable foster parents to provide daily care and supervision for the child in care.

Home At Last

By: Kathleen Companion, DCYF Foster/Adoption Program

The following is an excerpt from Connector, NH DCYF’s Foster, Adoptive and Relative Resource Care Newsletter.

At any given time, there are approximately 700 children and youth who are in out of home placements. Well over half of these children are placed with you – our foster and relative care families.

Most children entering foster care as a result of abuse and neglect in their home are able to successfully reunify with their family thanks to the hard work and commitment of their parents, their foster parents and the sup- port from professionals. However, when children and youth cannot safely return home, Adoption is the preferred alternative. The State is continually recruiting for families who are ready and able to commit to a child or youth waiting for adoption. Finding the best match for a child is not always easy. Despite concerted efforts, these children wait too long.

The task of finding families who are interested in adopting our Waiting Children has become a bit easier thanks to Mary-Paige Provost and Jean Mackin who have offered us an amazing partnership with NH Chronicle and WMUR. Mary-Paige and Jean became aware of the challenge we faced at finding families for NH’s Waiting Children and decided to take action. They agree with our belief that all children deserve permanency and belong in a family. They offered to develop a presentation similar to Wednesday’s Child in Massachusetts and Home At Last was born. So far, Home At Last has provided child specific recruitment for two of our teens who have been waiting far too long to be matched with a family they could call their own.

Not only are we receiving specific inquiries for the youth being highlighted on NH Chronicle, we are reaching many families who were unaware that this was a need in our state and are now stepping forward to offer their hearts and homes. Our inquiries for new foster and adoptive applicants have doubled as a direct result of Home at Last and the passion and commitment of the show’s producer, Mary-Paige Provost and news anchor, Jean Mackin. We thank them for shining the light on our Waiting Children with grace and compassion and guiding these children Home At Last.

To learn more about becoming a foster care provider, please contact DCYF Foster Care and Adoption Services online or at (603) 271-4711.

Adolescent Updates

By: Robert Rodler, DCYF Adolescent Program Specialist

Affordable Care Act – Health Insurance for Eligible Foster Youth

Effective January 1, 2014, any youth, who is under the age of 26 and exited DCYF foster care placement at the age of 18 or older and who qualified for NH Medicaid at the time of exit, became eligible for health insurance through NH Medicaid. (Placement includes foster, relative, shelter and residential care but not secure detention.)

DCYF will assist youth currently in placement with applying for this new benefit as they transition out of care. Through letters and posting information on our Facebook page and website, DCYF will also be making efforts to reach out to youth who have already exited care. Your assistance in helping to get the word out to your former foster youth who may be eligible would be greatly appreciated.

Please let them know that applications can be completed on-line at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website: www.nheasy.nh.gov.

They can also go to nearest DHHS District Office and request a paper application: http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/contactus/districtoffices.htm

If they have any questions or need further assistance they can contact the
DCYF Adolescent Worker nearest to where they are living:
http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dcyf/documents/adolescentworkers.pdf

Granite State Rumblings: Caregivers, Teachers, and Health Providers Are Vital To Childhood Development

Child_pushing_grandmother_on_plastic_tricycle

(Image by Wiki Common)

As we close the door on April this week and welcome in May, we are also leaving National Child Abuse Prevention Month. But this is an issue that must not be talked about for only one month each year. It must be part of the discussion of healthy child development all year long. Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff, Director of the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University, explains in this video why we all have a stake in the healthy development of every child.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, wrote a truly informative commentary on the effects of toxic stress on children that I would like to share with you.

Chances are, you know someone whose child has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Perhaps your own child has received this diagnosis. In many cases, it’s a legitimate issue, and can require medication, therapy or both.

But in my experience, ADHD is one of the diagnoses that can be given – precipitously – to children whose behavior issues are not really about inattention.  Their behavior is just one outward sign of a much larger public health problem that we are still working to fully understand: toxic stress.

I observe its effects every day in the clinic where I practice as a pediatrician in Bayview, one of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods.

Babies have emotions, too

When we think of the emotional life of a baby, we often reduce the child’s feelings to the way he behaves around a few daily activities.  We hear an infant cry when he needs to eat, or sleep, or when he feels uncomfortable.  And most caretakers tune in and attend to those needs.

But an infant’s well-being is not just about food, rest and diapers. There’s a lot more going on inside a baby’s brain and heart that we can nurture and foster.

Babies and toddlers have a complex emotional life, just like adults. They are constantly observing their caregivers and the world around them to piece together their relationship to their environment.

During the critical developmental years, between birth and age four, some children experience high anxiety or fear because their home environment is unsafe.  They’re subject or witness to physical or emotional abuse, or even extreme poverty.  And this trauma can have a tremendous impact on their physical brain development, as well as their emotional development, at a stage when a child is forming the most important attachments in life.

“Toxic stress” is not typical stress

Every child experiences some stress growing up – and even some upsetting events.  That’s normal.  And learning to cope in those situations is actually necessary for the brain and the body, because it helps a child navigate a complex world and bounce back when trouble arises.  Even in a crisis, when a caretaker is there to help a child cope in a healthy way, it strengthens the child’s ability to trust.  Those kinds of experiences qualify as “positive” or “tolerable” stress.

But when a child endures something extremely stressful, especially if it is repeated or takes place over a long period of time– without adequate emotional support, this leads to prolonged activation of the body’s stress response system. That’s called “toxic” stress.  And it can affect the way the brain and body grow and develop.

Some examples of those painful experiences, also called “ACEs,” or “adverse childhood experiences,” include physical and emotional abuse, neglect, having a caregiver who is mentally ill or substance-dependent, or being exposed to violence without enough support from a loving adult.

Pain in childhood can lead to illness in adulthood

Prolonged or extreme adversity in childhood can cause damage emotionally, socially and physically.

Caregivers, teachers and health providers often see the impact of toxic stress most clearly in a young child’s behavior.  We’ll observe a child who is defiant, loses control a lot, has trouble paying attention or has developmental delays that we can’t attribute to an underlying physical problem.

And toxic stress affects more than outward behavior.  Below the surface, it manifests itself in actual physical changes in the brain and the body.

Like several other researchers, I have studied the link between ACEs and health.  The groundbreaking study in this area, published in 1998, found that a person with four or more adverse experiences in childhood had 2.6 times the risk of the lung disease COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) of someone with no adverse experiences.

ACEs can also heighten the chance of obesity, stroke, cancer, asthma and diabetes, as well as multiply the risk of hepatitis, depression and heart disease.

Stress sets off a chemical reaction

ACEs directly affect a child’s body by activating the same kind of “fight-or-flight” response you’d experience if, say, you came into contact with a bear.  The heart pounds, and the body releases hormones that cause chemical reactions.

Chronic stress can mean frequent triggering of this chemical response, and that can be harmful to a child’s development long-term.  It can lead to chronic inflammation, and affect the part of the brain that is implicated in addictive behavior.

The more adverse experiences a child has, the more likely s/he is to develop a host of risky behaviors and negative outcomes later in life, such as alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy or even suicidal tendencies that can cause serious harm or greatly diminish the prospects of a healthy and successful adulthood.

A caregiver is a child’s best buffer

Even in an atmosphere where stress is frequent and not controllable, a young child’s parent or caregiver is the number one shield against the effects of toxic stress.  Babies and toddlers are sponges.  They absorb many emotions – and tensions – in the atmosphere and people around them.  But when there’s a caregiver who can help the child manage these difficult feelings and develop resilience, it can prevent the development of toxic stress.

The quality of a caregiver’s interaction with a child is a key building block for healthy emotional, social and even physical development.  Research has shown that something as subtle as a parent’s facial expression and tone of voice will affect even a young infant.

Some of the best ways to support a child’s health and development involve simple things like smiling and laughing, taking time to play with a child one-on-one, and just slowing down to spend time together. Read more here.

 GROWING UP GRANITE 

Last week Spidey and I spent vacation week together. We had a blast playing games, reading stories, singing silly songs in the car as we ran errands, baking cookies, going to the Fisher Cats game and a play at the Opera House, and just being together.

I love the times we spend together. And I hope that when he looks back on his childhood, it will be with a special fondness for his Grandma Peanut Butter, as he calls me.

Playing with and spoiling our grandchildren is one of the special delights we have earned and they deserve. Right?

But did you know that grandparents also play a very functional role in today’s society? More than three million children in the United States are cared for every day by grandparents.

A number of factors are driving the increase in grandparents serving as the primary caregivers for grandchildren. Grandparents often step in to raise grandchildren when a parent is unavailable due to death, illness, incarceration, or abandonment. In other cases parents may have handed off children to grandparents when they went to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Grandparents saddled with child-rearing responsibilities in these situations are faced with balancing the stress of the departure of their own child with the sudden shift in caretaking responsibilities at a time in life when retirement should around the corner. A Pew report last year found that more than a fifth of grandparents who care for grandchildren live under the poverty line, more than twice the overall poverty rate among Americans ages 50 and over. And the financial challenges appear especially stark for grandparents raising grandchildren alone.

Even in situations where a family is intact, the need for two income-earners in a family often motivates parents to turn to grandparents for childcare responsibilities. For many children, grandparents are a source of stability and increasingly perform routine activities traditionally assigned to parents, such as day-to-day decision-making and providing for the children’s needs.
Very young children can benefit greatly from spending quality time with their grandparents. For example, several studies have shown that children whose grandparents talk, read and sing often to them show better vocabulary and emotional development, and are better able to manage stress. Simple things like singing traditional lullabies, telling family histories or playing games can strengthen bonds with young grandchildren, and help them prepare to learn.

Here are some resources and good reads on the topic:

Granite State Rumblings: Thousands Of Granite Staters Flock To Healthcare.Gov Before March 31 Deadline

The website Healthcare.gov has been the butt of a lot jokes the past few months. In fact, President Obama, himself, joked about it last week on the web series, “Between Two Ferns.” That viral video had a lot of people talking and a lot more heading to the Healthcare.gov website to sign up. And that is exactly what the administration was looking to have happen.

Nationally, young adults account for slightly less than one-fourth of the Americans who signed up for health plans during the initial three months of federal and state insurance marketplaces — fewer than the government has said will be needed to make the economics of the new exchanges work – which is why the President took to the comic webwaves.

Under the ACA, everyone must have health insurance this year or pay a penalty. The penalty is at least $95 but potentially much more, depending on income.

Those who fail to sign up by March 31 will have to wait until November for another chance to buy health insurance through the marketplaces.

But here in New Hampshire not everyone is waiting. As Todd Bookman reported for NHPR a few days ago, more than 21,000 New Hampshire residents have signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act, according to new data released by the federal government.

Here are the New Hampshire numbers:

  • In February, 4,715 enrolled in coverage, bringing the total since October above the federal government’s estimate of 19,000 total sign-ups for the state.
  • Women account for 55% of enrollees,
  • Nearly 3-in-4 residents qualified for some level of financial assistance.

Nationally, the numbers look like this:

  • More than 4.2 million (4,242,300) people selected Marketplace plans from Oct. 1, 2013, through Mar. 1, 2014, including 1.6 million in the State Based Marketplaces and 2.6 million in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace. About 943,000 people enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace plans in the February reporting period, which concluded March 1, 2014.
  • Of the more than 4.2 million:
    • 55 percent are female and 45 percent are male;
    • 31 percent are age 34 and under;
    • 25 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34;
    • 63 percent selected a Silver plan (up one percentage point over the prior reporting period), while 18 percent selected a Bronze plan (down one point); and
    • 83 percent selected a plan and are eligible to receive Financial Assistance (up one point).

If you live in New Hampshire and don’t have insurance, aren’t happy with your current coverage, or are looking for a more affordable plan, the new Health Insurance Marketplace provides you with new options to find health coverage that fits your budget. You can search and compare plans online, and quickly see if there’s a plan that works for you, by visiting the Covering New Hampshire website.

Whether you need health coverage or already have it, the new health care law offers new rights and protections that make coverage fairer and easier to understand. If you already have an individual insurance plan and want to change it, you can use the Marketplace to explore your options and enroll in a new plan. But even if you don’t want to change plans, the health care law protects you by:

  • Requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Holding insurance companies accountable for rate increases.
  • Preventing insurance companies from canceling your coverage just because you get sick.
  • Ends lifetime and yearly dollar limits on coverage of essential health benefits, including emergency rooms visits, prescription drugs, preventive care, and many others.

If you or someone you know needs health insurance, please check it out today, so you won’t miss the March 31st deadline.

Granite State Rumblings: Federal Contractors Get Raise, NH Pushes Bill To Increase Minimum Wage

Just hours before the President delivered his fifth State of the Union address, the White House revealed that President Obama will issue an executive order to increase the minimum wage for new federal contract workers.

The action will cover all workers employed under future government contracts, ensuring that none is paid less than $10.10 an hour. In a fact sheet announcing the action, the White House highlighted several occupations that will be helped by the move, including kitchen and laundry workers on military bases, as well as janitors at federal buildings and construction workers at government building sites.

Then, in his State of the Union address, President Obama called on business leaders across the country to raise minimum wages. “Give America a raise,” he said.

“After four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled,” President Obama said.

“The cold, hard fact is that, even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by — let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.”

“Our job is to reverse these trends.  It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything.  But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.”

The President also urged Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, stressing the benefit to women, who hold a majority of lower-wage jobs. Raising women’s pay is just one way to “do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode,” he said.

The White House believes the issue is one that may find bipartisan backing in an election year. Recent polls show most Americans favor raising the minimum wage — nearly three-quarters in a Pew Research poll conducted this month.

In fact, a group of leading economists signed a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders in support of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

The letter, released by the Economic Policy Institute, endorses a Democratic proposal to raise the minimum wage by ninety-five cents a year over the next three years, and then to tie further increases to inflation. The plan, which is sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA), received the support of President Obama in November.

The letter’s signees, including seven Nobel laureates, say the Miller-Harkin plan would increase the wages of close to 17 million low-wage workers.

“The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults in working families, disproportionately women, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on these earnings to make ends meet,” the letter reads, “At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages, such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers.”

In his State of the Union address, the President made the following statement, “Americans understand that some people will earn more than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success.  But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.”

We agree.

Growing Up Granite

We do not know if Congress will increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. We do know, however, that it would affect thousands of workers here in New Hampshire.

In Sunday’s Nashua Telegraph, David Brooks writes:

How much would it increase pay, and for how many? That depends on the raise, of course, but the rate that Obama suggested would affect tens of thousands of people in New Hampshire.

As of 2012, there were 64 labor categories in the state, roughly half the entire list of categories, in which the average entry-level wage was below $10.10 – often far below.

Surveys run by New Hampshire Employment Security, for example, say that people working in the category “cooks, fast food” had an average entry-level hourly wage in 2012 of $8.15; maids were at $8.16; actors at $8.27; parking lot attendants at $8.29; “farmworkers, farm and ranch hands” at $8.52; and veterinary assistants at $8.60.

These are average starting wages, or the mathematical mean; which means many workers in each category make less than this when they start.

A think tank called the Economic Policy Institute estimated in December that a $10.10 minimum wage would directly affect 12.8 percent of all workers in the country. In New Hampshire, it estimated that 77,000 people currently make less than that rate, although that figure is extrapolated from national data.

The EPI estimated that a $10.10 minimum wage would affect 9.7 percent of working men and 14.7 percent of working women, a reflection of the larger number of females in low-paying occupations such as cleaning.

Even if Congress does not act, there is legislation here in the Granite State to raise the minimum wage, HB 1403. The bill calls for an increase to the minimum wage in two steps ($8.25 an hour and $9.00 an hour) and then indexing it to the cost of living after that.

The increase to $8.25 would take place on January 1, 2015.

The increase to $9.00 would take place on January 1, 2016.

Every January 1 after that, a new minimum wage, reflecting an annual cost of living adjustment, would take effect.  For instance, on January 1, 2017, a minimum wage of say $9.15 (depending on the rate of inflation) will take effect.  On January 1, 2018, the minimum would go up to $9.35 (again depending on inflation, etc.) and so on…

New Hampshire’s minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living. At $7.25 an hour – ($290.00 a week) – ($15,080.00 a year) – for a full-time employee, it leaves that worker with one child below the federal poverty level. And should s/he have more than 1 child, even deeper in poverty.

Poverty line Raising the minimum wage would help to lift hard working Granite State families out of poverty. It would help stimulate our economy, and it would help close the gender wage gap. Not only that – nearly ¾ of Americans support raising the minimum wage, according to a recent poll.

And in a January 2014 Public Policy Polling survey of New Hampshire voters when asked about raising the minimum wage, this is how they responded:

Q25 Would you support or oppose raising the
minimum wage to $10 an hour?

Support ……………… .60%
Oppose ……………… .29%
Not sure …………….. .11%

This bill has a hearing next Tuesday, February 11th at 10:15 am in the House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee. Please take the time this week to send an e-mail or call the committee members and let them know that you support raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire.

What’s Happening In New Hampshire

Tuesday, February 4, 1:45am – 2:45pm, SB203 Hearing – relative to permissible uses of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards *IMPORTANT*, SH 103 Finance

Click here to see more events in New Hampshire!

 

Low Income Families Are Suffering From Federal Budget Cuts (From Every Child Matters Education Fund NH)

By Mary Lou Beaver,
New Hampshire Campaign Director, 

Every Child Matters Education Fund

 

Mary Lou Beaver

MaryLou Beaver

NHLogo

Each year, to track the progress toward the goal of cutting poverty in half in 10 years, Half in Ten publishes an annual report that examines 21 different indicators of economic security and opportunity. On Tuesday, Half In Ten released their new report, Resetting the Poverty Debate: State of the States 2013.

Here are some excerpts from the report:

Poverty Rate

The percentage of people in poverty—defined as having an annual income below $23,492 for a family of four—did not change nationally from 2011 to 2012, remaining at 15 percent, or 46.5 million Americans. Similarly, the percentage of people with incomes of less than half the poverty line—sometimes referred to as deep poverty—remained at 6.6 percent in 2012. These measures do not account for the impacts of the Earned Income Tax Credit, nutrition assistance, and other noncash benefits on income.

To substantially reduce the share of Americans living below the poverty line, policymakers first need to immediately shift their focus from austerity to job creation and investment in people. The poverty rate remains high today due in large part to an excess of poorly compensated jobs. We need to turn bad jobs into good ones by increasing the minimum wage, supporting poorly compensated workers’ efforts to join unions, and ensuring that all workers have basic benefits such as paid sick leave.

Child Poverty Rate

Nationally, 21.8 percent of children ages 18 and younger were living below the poverty line in 2012. But children end up in poverty because their families are in poverty. When the incomes of the adults who reside with children—mainly parents—are not sufficient to meet the basic needs of the family, child poverty rates get worse. One considerable factor contributing to these high rates is family employment. Over the past several years, the rate of family unemployment has remained very high. While the family unemployment rate fell from 12.1 percent in 2011 to 10.1 percent in 2012, the share of families with at least one unemployed parent looking for work was still higher than the national average unemployment rate of 8.1 percent in 2012.

High School Graduation Rate

One of the national indicators that has shown improvement over the past several years is the on-time graduation rate for high school students, which measures the percentage of students that enter high school as freshmen and graduate within four years. The on-time high school graduation rate increased from 75.5 percent in the 2008-09 school year to 78.2 percent in the 2009-10 school year, its highest level since 1974.

Children who participate in state-funded prekindergarten programs are more likely to graduate from high school on time. Nationwide, total state funding for pre-K programs decreased by nearly $60 million in the 2010-11 school year. This is the second year in a row for which inflation-adjusted spending dropped, following a $30 million decrease in the 2009-10 school year. By contrast, Vermont had the best on-time graduation rate in the country and also maintains one of the best pre-K programs, increasing its enrollment by 25 percent in 2011.

Gender Wage Gap

Even though our economy has been growing slowly and steadily, women are among the groups that are still not sharing in its gains. In 2012, median annual earnings for women working full time and year round were $37,791, 76.5 percent of the median annual earnings—$49,398—of men working full time and year round.  The gender wage gap did not change significantly from 2011 to 2012, and there has been little progress in closing the gender wage gap since 2001.

Unequal pay means lower earnings for women and higher poverty rates for both married couples and female-headed households. In the 1990s, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimated that boosting women’s pay to men’s levels would cut the poverty rate in half for both single mothers and married couples and by even more for single women without children. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act would reduce the gender wage gap. Policies such as increasing the minimum wage, expanding investments in child care, and improving pay for workers in female-dominated occupations such as care work would help narrow the gender wage gap.

Besides pay disparities, other work challenges also hold women back, such as paid sick leave.

Lack of Health Insurance Coverage

One of the biggest expenses that pushes families into poverty is out-of-pocket spending on medical expenses, usually due to a lack of health insurance. In 2012, 10.6 million people fell into poverty due to out-of-pocket medical expenses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nationally, our recent investments in this indicator have shown improvement. The percentage of people without health insurance has gone down, falling from 15.7 percent in 2011 to 15.4 percent in 2012.  Since 2010, the number of people without health insurance has decreased by 2 million, in part due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, that have increased coverage among young people. As the full law goes into effect in 2014, further improvements in this indicator are expected.

In too many states, however, low-income nonelderly adults are not able to benefit from part of the ACA that was designed to help them—Medicaid expansion. They are much more likely than higher-income adults to be uninsured. They also fail to receive needed medical care and have problems paying medical bills. However, 24 states are refusing to implement the ACA’s option to expand Medicaid cover- age to most uninsured people with incomes of less than 138 percent of the federal poverty line.

Massachusetts has the lowest rate of residents earning 138 percent of the federal poverty line without health insurance. Only 7.6 percent of the state’s residents lack any kind of health care coverage due to its health insurance program. The state has also chosen to expand Medicaid.

Hunger and Food Insecurity

The food-insecurity indicator measures the share of total households that experienced difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of money or resources. In 2012, 14.5 percent of households—17.6 million households, to be exact—were food insecure. The change in food insecurity from 2011 to 2012 was not statistically significant.

Although food insecurity increased during the first year of the recession, it has essentially remained stable since then. This is likely due in large part to the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Recent research found that in 2011 and 2012, SNAP contributed to reductions in food insecurity among families who obtained program benefits. Yet SNAP funding has suffered recently. In November 2013, a temporary boost to SNAP funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expired, cutting the average SNAP benefit for a family of three by $29. This expiration took effect in November 2013; those relying on the program now have, on average, $1.40 per person per meal.

On top of that, many lawmakers in Congress have demanded further draconian cuts—as much as $39 billion over 10 years—in a recent House proposal. Policymakers should reject proposals that would damage SNAP’s responsiveness to economic conditions by radically altering its structure, as well as moves to further cut benefits.

Affordable and Available Housing

Nationally, there were only 57 affordable and available units per 100 renter house-holds with very low incomes in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, compared to 58 units in 2010. The number of renters with “worst-case needs” continued to increase in 2011.

Left alone, sequestration could cut housing vouchers for as many as 185,000 families by the end of 2014. These cuts are already seriously impacting the states. Congress should reverse the across-the-board cuts in housing that are part of sequestration and increase investments in rental-housing assistance and development.

The bottom line is this: Low-income families in states across the country are suffering from too many years of reckless efforts to reduce the federal deficit. Although many states need to improve local policies—especially those that hinder the ability of low-income families to access federally funded programs—the state- by-state results from our indicators show that the budget choices we make at the national level have consequences. The effects of sequestration will continue into next year and for many years thereafter. “It is like a slowly growing cancer,” says Steven Warren, vice chancellor of research and graduate studies at the University of Kansas. In 2014, sequestration will only get worse. The cuts will be deeper.

Many of this year’s cuts simply have not been implemented yet. And the one-time fixes that agencies made this year to mitigate sequestration’s impacts are no longer an option moving forward.

 

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