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IN THE NEWS
Katrina's Children Still Neglected Three Years Later
Last month marked the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and as New Orleans and the Gulf Coast face the threat of another hurricane, we must take this opportunity to remember the thousands of families - and especially children - still suffering three years after Katrina. The Children’s Defense Fund’s two reports on Katrina’s children document the affect the hurricane had on the area's children. For example about 100,000 children still do not live where they did when the hurricane struck and only 55 public schools in New Orleans were open as of December 2006, 43 percent of the pre-Katrina number. To access these reports click here.
Three Years After Katrina: Social and Economic Recovery of the Gulf Coast
New Orleans approaches the end of its third year of recovery from a position of strength, with the vast majority of its pre-storm population and jobs. But many recovery trends have slowed or stagnated in the past year as tens of thousands of blighted properties, lack of affordable housing for essential service and construction workers, and thin public services continue to plague the city and region. A strong federal-state-local partnership must continue to further the hard work of recovery, which is now well underway. New Orleans Index examines the social and economic recovery of the New Orleans metro area. Relying on more than fifty indicators, the Brookings Institution report examines recovery progress to date for the city and its surrounding parishes, with special emphasis on the changes in the past year. Click here
Overall Health Insurance Coverage Rises, But Masks Decline in Private Coverage
The U.S. Census Bureau released numbers recently that show that the share of Americans without health insurance coverage fell for the first time since 2000, from 15.8% in 2006 to 15.3% last year. There were 45.7 million uninsured Americans in 2007, down 1.2 million since its 47.0 million level in 2006. Overall insurance rates ended their uninterrupted decline since 2000. However, this positive news masks a significant shift from private to public coverage. Employment based coverage continued to decline and much of the fall in the percent of the uninsured is due to increases in public health insurance coverage, especially among children. (Economic Policy Institute). Click here to read more.
Household Income Rises, Poverty Rate Unchanged
Real median household income in the United States climbed 1.3% between 2006 and 2007, reaching $50,233, according to a new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the third annual increase in real median household income. Meanwhile, the nation’s official poverty rate in 2007 was 12.5%, not statistically different from 2006. There were 37.3 million people in poverty in 2007, up from 36.5 million in 2006. To read more click here.
To read more analysis about the new Census data on poverty, income and health insurance coverage click here
U.S. Trails High-Income Countries in Parental Leave Policies
The Center for Economic and Policy Research examines the parental leave policies of 21 high-income countries and finds the United States to be the least generous. According to CEPR, we pay a high price for our poor policy because parental leave improves the health and well-being of children and their parents and paid leave provide families with crucial economic support at such an important time. The study identifies six countries with "best practices" for parental leave. These countries employ 5 broad "best practice" policies: Generous paid leave; non-transferable quotas of leave for each parent; universal coverage; financing structures that pool risk among many employers; and scheduling flexibility. Click here.
Communities Suffer Economically, Physically and Socially From Foreclosures
The negative impacts of foreclosure on communities are far reaching. Although little formal data exists on this subject, local news accounts and reports from local officials paint a multifaceted picture. Not only are people losing homes, but also communities are suffering economically, physically and socially. A new report from NeighborWorks America, Seven Ways Foreclosures Impact Communities, focuses on areas that are hardest hit: metropolitan areas and their suburbs. NeighborWorks found that these communities suffer from increased crime, to read the other areas communities are impacted by foreclosure click here.
Congress Urged to Pass Important Child Welfare Legislation in September
The 110th Congress has taken important, bipartisan, bicameral steps toward improving the lives of children and youth who experience abuse and neglect. The Fostering Connections to Success Act (H.R. 6307), unanimously passed in the House, and the Finance Committee Chairman’s Mark of a similar bill, moving towards passage in the Senate, have a number of provisions in common that will help promote safety, permanency and well-being for children and youth in foster care. H.R. 6307 amends Part E (Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) of title IV of the Social Security Act (SSA) to give state plans the option of providing for the state to enter into agreements to provide kinship guardianship assistance payments to grandparents and other relatives who have assumed legal guardianship of children for whom they have cared as foster parents and for whom they have committed to care on a permanent basis. Click here.
Early Head Start Funds Reach Less than 3% of all Eligible Children
Research has shown that Early Head Start positively impacts children’s cognitive, language, and social-emotional development; parents’ progress toward self-sufficiency; as well as a wide range of parenting outcomes. The Center for Law and Social Policy and ZERO TO THREE conducted in-depth interviews with 10 states taking actions to build on Early Head Start. These individual profiles of state initiatives include data on the approaches used to build on Early Head Start, the state program, funding and supports, governance and coordination, and monitoring and evaluation. The report found that stagnant federal funding for EHS and the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) negatively impacts the ability of states to build on the promise of EHS and partner with child care. To read more of the opportunities and challenges facing state EHS administrators click here.
See also Building on the Promise: State Initiatives to Expand Access to Early Head Start for Young Children and Their Families for an analysis of all 20 states building on Early Head Start and recommendations for states. Click here.