Archives: Voices

CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, November 20, 2023

The giving thanks edition. This week, Americans will gather with their family and friends in a spirit of camaraderie and companionship – and hopefully, some really good food! Many of you may have things for which you are thankful. A roof over your head. Food on the table. The ability to meet household expenses. Time away from work to be with your loved ones. But millions of Americans don’t have that minimal security.

Just before Thanksgiving, 13.2 million people with children in the U.S. did not have enough to eat 

Thanksgiving will not be a time of plenty in millions of American households with children this year. The number of people with children who reported that in the previous week their households sometimes or often did not have enough to eat rose by 2 million, from 11.2 million to 13.2 million over the past year.  In survey periods covering September 20 – October 30 of 2023, close to 16 percent of people with children said they did not have enough food, up from nearly 14 percent who responded during the periods covering October 5 through November 14, 2022.   

Two years in, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making a difference 

After her husband passed from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2019, Kim Guess suddenly became a single mom who needed to support her family. The Kalamazoo, Michigan resident launched a dance group fitness studio named Guess Who’s Dancing. Later, she became the part-owner of downtown Kalamazoo’s first Black-owned event venue space, the Xperience. But there is a problem. The roads surrounding her business are among the city’s top 25 most dangerous roads. They are all one-way, unsafe for pedestrians, dangerous at night due to a lack of streetlights, and difficult for her customers to navigate their way to Kim’s business. 

Update: 260 Groups Tell Congress: Keep Government Running and Protect Human Needs

The Coalition on Human Needs is asking local, state, and national groups to sign  a letter asking Congress to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government open and running beyond Friday, November 17. If Congress fails to act by midnight next Friday, we will face a government shutdown. The deadline for signing is noon ET Monday, November 13.

How the expanded Child Tax Credit reduced poverty – why we need the Supplemental Poverty Measure 

Although children in all 50 states benefited from an expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC), new data show that the effect was most felt among rural, low-cost states, some of which experienced drops in child poverty by more than 50 percent when the CTC was temporarily expanded during the pandemic. The data found that during 2021, when the expansion was in effect, child poverty dropped the most in rural, low cost-of-living states such as Alabama (down 52.5%), Maine (down 52.2%), Missouri (down 51.5%) and Wyoming (down 51.7%). 

New report: Ten million Americans have lost Medicaid coverage. Many shouldn’t have. 

Ten million Americans have lost Medicaid coverage as states are deciding who should continue to receive benefits, and more than 70 percent of those who lost coverage did so because of bureaucratic hurdles such as missing paperwork, not because they were shown to be ineligible.  It is likely that two-thirds of those who lost coverage became uninsured either briefly or for a longer period.  More than half of those losing benefits are likely to be people of color. 

CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, November 3, 2023

The earliest years edition. During the pandemic, policymakers worked, often in historic ways, to protect and elevate the well-being of children. A temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit slashed the nation’s child poverty rate more than ever before. New laws and regulations made it easier to access nutrition assistance, including school meals even when school was not in session. No one was allowed to be kicked off Medicaid, ensuring that children (along with adults) had continuous access to health care. Emergency rental assistance and a federal ban on evictions kept families housed. Billions of dollars went to shore up the child care industry, and more money was allocated for early childhood education programs such as Head Start. Now it seems we have forgotten all that we learned.

Paid leave: ‘I benefit when my employees do not have to choose between their loved ones and a paycheck’  

Ben Verhoeven is a farmer and owner of Peoria Gardens, Inc., a nursery and greenhouse located in the rural Oregon town of Albany that grows flowers for distribution to retail garden centers. He employees 26 people full-time, year-round, as well as an additional 24 seasonal workers. All of Verhoeven’s employees have access to paid family and medical leave – and neither Verhoeven nor the employees have to pay much for the benefit – just 0.4 percent of payroll for Verhoeven and 0.6 percent for the employees. 

School lunches should be free

During the pandemic, the government embarked on a beautiful experiment: expanding public programs to stave off poverty. One critical component was ensuring that public school students had free lunches regardless of family income. During the 2020-2021 school year, 98 percent of all school lunches were free to students. All of a sudden, public schools were allowed to treat the idea of feeding students to be as essential as educating them.

Count All Kids

CHN helps lead Count All Kids, a campaign to improve the count of young children in census data, and also advocates to improve how the census counts other communities where many members are missed, such as communities of color. When everyone in a community is counted, the community has more political power, more funding for programs that matter for kids, and better data to manage government programs.  

Use What We’ve Learned to End Child Poverty

Child poverty more than doubled from 2021 to 2022, children and their parents are now losing health care coverage, and child care programs across the country are at heightened risk of closure — all because successful pandemic-era policies have ended or are ending. That’s the bad news, and it is devastating. Yet in thinking about how to move forward, the good news matters just as much: that the nation enacted an extraordinary package of pro-child policies in the first place.