2015 Progress Report Details Challenges – and Solutions – for Oregon’s Kids

CFFO Progress Report cover
Today, Children First for Oregon announces the release our 2015 Progress Report, an annual data-driven analysis on the well-being of kids in Oregon. You can view the full report here and you can explore the data here.

The report shows that Oregon’s children continue to face significant barriers to success. Despite slight improvements in some areas, progress for kids is largely stalled.

Child abuse and neglect in Oregon has declined by only 2% since 2003 – despite falling by 25% nationwide.

A child in Oregon has a 1 in 5 chance of being poor – even if one of her parents works.

Our child poverty rate has increased 10% since the Great Recession ended – and 25% since it began.

Those numbers are daunting, but Oregon has a long history of a pioneer spirit – both in people and public policies. We are trail blazers. And now is the time to be pioneers again. To unite on behalf of kids and make meaningful long-term change. That’s why the report includes concrete policy solutions currently under consideration.

We can enact a $15 minimum wage. We can increase investments in home visiting for at risk parents. We can expand early education. If such solutions are adopted, lawmakers would immediately put thousands of children on the path towards a more prosperous future.

To make true progress we need to work together as advocates and Oregonians, hold lawmakers accountable, and build power for our kids. By highlighting the problem and uniting around these solutions with the urgency and determination shown by so many great pioneers before us, we can and we will make Oregon the best place to be a kid.

Join us if you believe, as we do, that kids should be a top public priority. Visit www.ORUnitedforKids.org/Join and sign up for Oregon’s pro-child movement today.

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“More than 60 organizations join to push children’s policy agenda in Oregon Legislature”

By Amy Wang
The Oregonian
February 8, 2015

The lead agency in the movement is Children First for Oregon…

Tonia Hunt, executive director of Children First for Oregon, said Wednesday that the United for Kids movement and the 2015 Children’s Agenda are a natural pairing. “We know that it takes the engagement of Oregonians … to make sure that policy makers enact policies that improve the well-being of kids,” Hunt said.

The new movement has two initial strategies, Hunt said: Providing information to legislators, via the 2015 Children’s Agenda, “about what are the next best moves to make in terms of policy change,” and engaging the state’s voters, business organizations, faith communities and civic clubs with the question of “whether or not they believe kids should be a top priority in public policy decisions.”

Read the full story here and read the full 2015 Children’s Agenda here.

Safety Net Reduces Oregon’s Child Poverty by Half

Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United StatesWithout any government intervention, 31% of Oregon children would live in families that are unable to meet basic needs like groceries, housing, and childcare, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The KIDS COUNT® Data Snapshot, Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States, also finds that taking the value of social programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) into account reduces this rate to 14%.

The report analyzes the U.S. Census Bureau’s alternate, more accurate, measure of family economic security, the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), to evaluate the effectiveness of the social safety net in helping families meet their basic needs. According to the report, social programs reduced the number of children living in families that are unable to meet basic needs by at least one-third in every state.

However, child poverty remains high in spite of these investments, especially among children of color. Even taking into account the value of safety net programs, 25% of children of color in Oregon live in families unable to meet basic needs, compared to 10% of their non-Hispanic White peers.

“Too many hard working families are struggling to get ahead in this economy, but the social safety net is doing what it was designed to do,” says Children First for Oregon Executive Director Tonia Hunt. “These critical programs are helping thousands of families in Oregon put food on their table and keep roofs over their heads. Now we need to work to strengthen these programs so that no child goes without basic needs being met.”

In Oregon, SNAP illustrates both the success and inadequacy of the safety net in helping families meet their basic needs. Due to extensive outreach within the state, Oregon has one of the nation’s highest rates of participation in SNAP, and the program reduces the rate of children with unmet basic needs by more than 20%. “SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger in Oregon,” says Jeff Kleen, public policy advocate at Oregon Food Bank. “But for most families, SNAP benefits are insufficient to meet basic nutritional requirements for the whole month.”

To create an economy in which all children have the opportunity to grow up healthy, smart, and economically secure, Children First for Oregon has convened 60 pro-child advocacy organizations to form the 2015 Children’s Agenda. The Agenda includes legislative priorities that will reward hard work with family-sustaining wages and make critical investments to strengthen the social safety net, such as:

  • increasing the number of families served by Employment Related Day Care;
  • strengthening Oregon’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program; and
  • renewing the Working Family Childcare Tax Credit.

“When we invest in Oregon’s children, we invest in our future,” says Hunt. “As citizens and advocates we must come together to demand policies that make Oregon the best place to be a kid.”

Click here to download the full report.

Children First releases 2015 Children’s Agenda

Children First for Oregon is proud to partner with more than 60 advocacy organizations to create a first-ever, coordinated policy agenda for kids for Oregon. The 2015 Children’s Agenda compiles the best thinking about what it will take to make Oregon a great place to be a kid and specific policy recommendations from the community of advocates working on behalf of Oregon’s children and families. Focused on children’s education, economic stability and overall health, the Children’s Agenda captures the depth and breadth of challenges and real solutions that can make a difference for kids in our state. See the full Children’s Agenda here.agenda-blog-graphic-1024x757

Children First for Oregon believes advocates for children are stronger together – a coordinated agenda with shared messaging creates momentum and power in the politically charged world of policy change. The Children’s Agenda is an important step forward for Oregon’s children and we deeply appreciate the contribution and engagement of our advocacy peers. Children First is honored to support our peers and their priorities for children with the Children First advocacy and outreach team.

In the last year Children First has dedicated its energy and resources to expanding its historic leadership role in child well-being measurements and children’s advocacy to include building a constituency for children and serving the advocacy community as a convener and coordinator of a larger pro-child movement. Our goal remains clear and simple: to make Oregon to be a great place to be a kid. Stay tuned for our next steps to engage Oregonians in building a united voice for kids!

To download the 2015 Children’s Agenda or join United for Kids, visit www.ORUnitedforKids.org.

Oregon Foster Youth Connection members seek legislative support for foster care legislation

By Amy Wang
The Oregonian
February 3, 2015

Foster youth seek legislative support for extracurriculars, savings accounts

As the Oregon Legislature starts its 2015 regular session this week, the bills in front of lawmakers include several that focus on foster youth.

Two bills introduced in draft form Monday to the House Committee on Human Services and Housing would ensure that foster youth have access to at least one extracurricular activity and to savings accounts in their names once they reach the age of 12.

Read the full story here.