Archives: Voices

Celebrating with CHN: The Human Needs Hero gala 

The Coalition on Human Needs Thursday night marked its 40th anniversary with a Human Needs Hero gala that recognized decades of victories, clambering back from defeats, amazing organizing accomplishments, and more than a few heroes of the progressive movement. 

‘We can’t out-pay Walmart:’ How low pay is decimating Head Start 

Low pay and stressful work conditions are causing Head Start providers across the country to lose key staff, shut down programs, and turn students from low-income families away, a situation that is setting off alarm bells among early childhood education advocates. 

Reversing labor laws rooted in slavery.

As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, it is important to acknowledge the lasting impacts of slavery on the workplace and the labor market. The at-will employment doctrine, which allows employers in most states to discharge workers for any reason, and the subminimum wage for tipped workers are both rooted in the employer backlash to Emancipation. These laws continue to disadvantage workers—Black and Latinx workers in particular.

Leadership Conference, allies, and feds set out to conquer the digital divide 

The late U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) used to say that affordable access to the internet is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. And we saw this during the pandemic, when whether or not students could get online often meant the difference between learning and being denied an education at a time when schools were shuttered and classrooms went virtual. Now the federal government is addressing this inequity – and advocacy groups and service-providers across the country are jumping in to help. 

CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship, June 17, 2022

The children are hurting edition. We’ve known for some time that students’ math and reading skills have suffered during the pandemic. This is mostly due to the shift to virtual learning that begun in March 2020. Students – particularly those from families with low incomes, disproportionately Black, brown and Indigenous students – did not achieve as well when they were out of the classroom. The pandemic has led to declines in school enrollment around the nation, which in turn is forcing budget cuts in many school districts – not a good way to repair the damage inflicted on students. But we now are learning more about other ways children are hurting – with more threats on the horizon. 

Advocates renew push for affordable, available child care as part of reconciliation package  

Staring into her son’s eyes in front of the U.S. Capitol, Jacklyn from Niagara Falls, New York explained why including support for child care in the reconciliation package is crucial for her family’s success. Jacklyn lives in a rural community where child care is highly inaccessible. The options are limited – there are more children who need spots than spots available in the child care programs. “Even if we could get a spot off the waitlists, there is no way we could afford it with its very high costs,” she said.   

We’ll all need home care some day

My son JJ has cerebral palsy. He’s unable to speak or use his arms and legs. But he’s remarkable. He communicates by using his nose to type on a keyboard attached to his wheelchair. His mind is sharp, and he’s passionate about advocating for people with disabilities and their families. We live in Florida. We’ve been on the waiting list for in-home health care assistance since JJ was 3 years old. He’s now 18.

CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship, June 3, 2022

The our-nation-is-not-well edition. Omicron subvariants continue to surge throughout the country. The average number of new daily cases now exceeds 100,000 – a number we have not seen since February. Things could get worse. In California, two highly contagious subvariants that recently swept through South Africa have been detected. The newly discovered BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are more transmissible than the nation’s current dominant subvariants – BA.2 and BA.2.12.1.

200 members of Congress voted against baby formula. That’s an outrage.

My 8-month-old daughter, Jayde, was born with a growth restriction. She weighs just 13 pounds — no more than a 3-month-old. She sees a pediatric nutritionist and eats a specialized formula that provides 30 calories per ounce in hopes of getting her on the elusive growth curve. Jayde was crawling steadily towards this goal — until all of a sudden, we couldn’t find her formula anywhere. We spent hours scouring the internet, social media, and stores. As the national shortage took hold, none could be found.

White House forum explores growing youth mental health crisis  

Eva Long’s mother was overseas when she got a call saying her daughter had committed suicide while away at college.  “I was just in shock. I said, ‘This can’t be real. This can’t be true,'” Long said. “That cry of a mother when they’ve lost their child is a pretty wicked one, and I couldn’t stop it.”  

How the American Rescue Plan created a more just America 

The Biden Administration this week released a detailed report laying out not just how the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) helped the country recover from the coronavirus pandemic and the pandemic-related recession, but also took historic steps to promote racial and income equity.