Demand Congress address childhood hunger and poverty
Throughout the pandemic, Congress and the Biden Administration demonstrated how government can be a source for good, lifting up millions of children and families.
From the expanded Child Tax Credit to healthy school meals for all, together we dramatically reduced childhood hunger and poverty. But now, the Senate’s failure to act has meant needed help has run out just as rising prices have made things much harder for families. Hunger is rising. Women can’t return to work because child care is unaffordable or unavailable. We can’t give up now.
The second half of 2021, more than 61 million children in roughly 36 million families across the U.S. received a monthly Child Tax Credit payment of $250 or $300 per child.
Then because the Senate failed to act, the Child Tax Credit payments stopped in January, and 3.7 million children were plunged back into poverty.
These monthly payments also help alleviate the scourge of racial inequality in the U.S. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 9.9 million children will fall back into poverty or deeper into poverty without an extension of the expanded CTC―and disproportionate poverty for Black, Latinx, and American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) children in particular will grow even worse.
We know that when children do not have nutritious meals, they are more likely to fall behind in school and experience more health problems. Now, as rising costs and supply shortages have hit school food programs, Congress needs to provide more funding so more high-poverty communities can provide free meals to all students. Of course, children need to eat when school is out, so Congress should create a nationwide Summer EBT program, providing debit cards for eligible families to help them purchase food when schools are closed.
Finally, we cannot fully invest in families if we don’t address the crisis in child care and early education.
The Biden administration and the House have proposed adding billions of dollars into federally supported child care and pre-k programs. This will help ensure child care doesn’t bankrupt families with low and moderate incomes, ensure child care workers are paid a fair wage of at least $15 an hour, and provide voluntary free pre-school for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Aside from difficulties finding quality child care spots, costs remain astronomical―exceeding $10,000 a year in many parts of the country. Under the President’s plan, the cost of child care would be capped at 7% of a family’s earnings for millions of working families.
The Americans-are-falling-behind edition. Rents are late and evictions are looming. Two-thirds of parents say their kids have fallen behind in school. One in five households say someone in the home has been unable to get medical care for a serious condition. These are but a few of the findings from a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
On the COVID-19 front, about half as many new cases are being reported each day as at the start of September. New infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are falling significantly in most parts of the country – with an emphasis on most. Hawaii, which experienced its worst surge of the pandemic during the summer, now is reporting the fewest infections per capita of any state. It is followed by Florida and Louisiana – both hotspots just a few months ago. But cases in the Mountain West are surging – Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming lead the country in recent cases per capita.
And we are not comforted by what we see outside our borders. In Britain, a country that throughout much of the pandemic has served as kind of a COVID-19 bellwether, new infections are surging. Some experts think this is because Britain rolled out its vaccination program earlier than most – now, in some cases 10 months later, the protection offered by those shots is waning. In Russia, a vaccine-hesitant nation where only just over a third of eligible adults have gotten their shots, infection rates are so high that nonessential workers are being ordered to shelter at home.
Meanwhile, members of Congress and the White House are reported to be in the final negotiations over what will be included in the Build Back Better plan. Many priorities of human needs advocates are in the plan, although some are reduced in scope to fit into a smaller package – but we have to push hard to make sure they are not stripped out of the final version. For example, we must fight for paid family and medical leave and the expanded Child Tax Credit. We must push hard for home and community-based care for the aging and people with disabilities. We must demand that the federal government be allowed to negotiate lower Medicare drug prices.
There’s much more – those are but a few important examples of what we must fight for. You can join the fight. Write your senators and your House member here.
75,498 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 21, along with 1,509 deaths, and 56,759 hospitalizations. That’s a 24 percent decrease in cases, a 15 percent decrease in deaths, and a 19 percent decrease in hospitalizations over the previous 14 days. Tweet this
More than one-third of families with young children are facing serious problems finding child care when adults need to work. That’s according to a new study conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Tweet this
The percentageof households reporting serious financial trouble the past few months. That includes more than 50 percent of Latinx, Black, and Native American households, but only 29 percent of White households. Tweet this
The numberof women who left the workforce in September 2021. Although the drop was not as precipitous as September 2020, when 865,000 women left the workforce, it still shows how women have been disproportionately harmed during the pandemic. The drop is due to a number of factors – many jobs that employ women such as service, retail, hospitality, and caregiving have disappeared compared to levels two years ago. In addition, for many women domestic responsibilities have increased, while support structures such as child care centers and nursing homes are far less available. Tweet this
Women lost 26,000 jobs in September, while men gained 220,000 jobs. Women have now lost 2.9 million jobs since the pandemic began. Tweet this
About 5 million children with veteran or active-duty parents are eligible for a new or expanded Child Tax Credit, thanks to the American Rescue Plan Congress passed in March. But these five million kids – along with millions of other children – will lose the additional benefit in December, unless Congress acts to extend the CTC expansion.
6 x; 65,000
Black and Latinx death rates for middle-aged people are six times higher than those for comparable age Whites. Gender is another important factor: at least 65,000 more men had died from COVID-19 than women in the U.S. by the end of August, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution.
10 states, including Florida, Michigan, and Ohio, still report vaccination rates for nursing home staff under 60 percent. In August and September, nursing home resident deaths surged, hitting 4,000. President Biden has announced a vaccine mandate for nursing home staff, meaning nursing homes with unvaccinated staff will be subject to loss of Medicaid and Medicare funds. But the White House has not yet announced how the mandate will be implemented – details are expected later this month.
The Biden Administration has secured enough supply and rolled out a plan to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, and tens of thousands of pharmacies with vaccine supply for children ages 5 to 11. It is anticipated that the FDA and CDC will approve COVID-19 vaccinations for the 28 million children in this age group within about two weeks.
New research shows governors in states without vaccine mandates – or where they’ve outright prohibited such a requirement – have “significantly lower” approval ratings for their handling of COVID-19. In states with vaccine mandates, 52 percent of people approve or strongly approve of their governor’s handling of the pandemic. That approval rating drops to 42 percent in states with no vaccine requirements, and to 36 percent in states where governors have banned vaccine mandates.