New Federal Budget Proposal Jeopardizes the Future of Our Nation’s Poorest Children

Food, shelter, safety, health. We know these as “basic needs” because human survival depends on them. Everything we want children to achieve — a solid education, a successful career, a healthy family of their own — stems from meeting their most basic needs early in life.

The proposed federal budget released by the White House this week is an attack on these needs and the poorest families who rely on help from our federal government. Cuts amounting to over $150 billion over the next decade from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs would make it even harder for struggling families to put food on the table. Cuts to rental assistance and the complete elimination of low-income energy assistance programs would leave over 250,000 low-income families without stable or safe homes. Total cuts to health care amounting to $1.85 trillion over ten years would decimate Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid. Fifty percent of all people who rely on Medicaid for health care coverage are children, including over 400,000 children in Oregon who rely on Medicaid and CHIP. Over the next decade, the proposed budget will slash trillions of dollars from safety net programs and services that help to fulfill the most basic needs of our country’s most vulnerable children.

Combined with additional cuts to education, rural health, and the total elimination of job training programs, the proposed budget adds up to disaster for children now and for our country in the future. Cuts this deep will deny struggling families the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their kids.

We know that educational attainment is the surest way out of poverty. We know that coverage through Medicaid, the nation’s largest children’s health insurer, leads to lower drop-out rates and higher college graduation rates, reduced adolescent mortality, and higher lifetime wealth and income rates. We know that self-sufficiency programs like SNAP and TANF provide a necessary bridge so the neediest families receive help while they get back on their feet.

Failure to fulfill children’s basic needs early on in life comes at the expense of their futures, and the future of our country. Children need food, shelter, safety, and health — not cuts.

Harmful Immigration Enforcement Practices Threaten Children’s Well-Being

Protecting children is a core American value. From child custody cases to the child welfare system, the child’s “best interests” are key considerations in ensuring that children’s security, mental health, and emotional development are prioritized in any decision made on their behalf. However, in recent discussions of immigration policy and enforcement practices, the best interests of children are too often ignored. As Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) detains and deports more parents, it is imperative that the physical, psychological, and economic impacts of immigration enforcement practices are considered and mitigated to protect children in families of undocumented immigrants.

The detention and deportation of parents have significant consequences for children in both the short- and long-term, threatening the safety and well-being of approximately 4.1 million US citizen children living with at least one undocumented parent. In the event that a parent is detained, the most immediate physical risk for children occurs when families are separated during detention. Once arrested, many parents are transferred to an immigration center, often without the opportunity to contact their children or arrange care. A lack of coordination between family courts, the child welfare system, and detention centers, amplified by language barriers, make it difficult and sometimes impossible for parents to reunite with their children after the conclusion of their immigration case.

Unfortunately, physical separation from their parents is not the only threat that immigration enforcement practices pose to children. The psychological toll of having a parent at risk of, or experiencing, deportation has significant impacts on the emotional well-being of children. Many children with undocumented parents live in a constant state of uncertainty about their lives and their futures, experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and severe psychological distress. According to the Children’s Partnership, pediatricians have reported increased anxiety and panic attacks among children who fear their parents may face deportation or whose parents have been detained. Having a parent detained is traumatic regardless of whether a child witnesses it or not —while many children whose parents are apprehended at home experience significant psychological trauma and symptoms of PTSD, children whose parents are arrested when the child is not present often struggle with confusion and stress. As we know, trauma has far-reaching implications for children’s emotional and behavioral development, leading to adverse outcomes ranging from higher dropout rates to increased risk of chronic health conditions.

In addition to separation from their parents and psychological stress, children of undocumented parents are more likely to experience increased economic hardship. The loss of a detained or deported primary caregiver has a significant financial impact on families. In addition to the loss of income, many families struggle to cover the cost of hiring lawyers and paying immigration bonds. Ultimately, these financial burdens lead to an increased risk of housing instability and food insecurity.

As immigration enforcement activities increase and more parents face detention and deportation, the quality of life of children in immigrant families is a primary concern. According to a 2007 study by the Urban Institute, for every two adults apprehended or deported in a raid by ICE, one citizen child is directly impacted. For these children, it is imperative that the enforcement of immigration policies does not compromise their safety and well-being. Experiencing separation from parents, psychological trauma, and economic instability are not in any child’s best interests. We all want children to feel safe, happy, and economically secure, and federal immigration policies and practices must support these values.

Cultivating Community to Prevent Child Abuse in Linn & Benton Counties

Can we all make a difference in supporting families?

Can communities rally to keep kids safe?

In Linn and Benton counties, the answer to these questions is a resounding “Yes!”

Aoife Magee, Ph.D., who leads the Parenting Education Department at Linn-Benton Community College (LBCC), is an instrumental leader in preventing child abuse in her community. With Magee’s expanded vision, existing prevention programs at LBCC go beyond working with the families themselves to include the broader community with a series of educational workshops about child development, family resources and prevention strategies. These upcoming workshops will be open to the public, including teachers, nurses, librarians, coaches, neighbors, case managers, and public health professionals. By enabling parents and practitioners to work together in learning the same skills, LBCC hopes to combat isolation and its negative impact on children.

Magee knows about the challenges of parenting not only as a professional in the field, but as a parent herself.  Seventeen years ago, Magee attended her first parenting classes, and she continues to rely on the friendships and resources she gained as she parents her now-teenage son. This experience bolstered Aoife’s belief that every adult in a child’s life needs support.

Magee has many big ideas about how Oregon can be a safer and more supportive place for families — and those big ideas are already yielding results. Linn and Benton counties have made significant progress in preventing child abuse over the last three years. A strategic focus on building community and preventing social isolation of parents in Linn and Benton counties is working!

The Parenting Education Department of Linn-Benton Community College is supported by the Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon, a partner of Children First for Oregon, in reducing child abuse and strengthening families in our state.

Devastating American Health Care Act Puts Kids at Risk

The passage of the American Health Care Act by the U.S. House of Representatives today will have a devastating impact on children and families in Oregon. The bill decimates Medicaid and threatens vulnerable children and families’ access to treatment for medical conditions.

At a minimum, Medicaid will be cut by more than $800 billion over 10 years, resulting in at least 24 million more uninsured people nationwide within a decade. It places a cap on federal funding for Medicaid, which will create a hole in our state’s budget, risk cuts to critical programs, and leave state and local taxpayers to foot the bill.

This measure also opens the door for insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, which means that kids with asthma, diabetes, heart defects, and other serious conditions may not have access to health care coverage. The bill also imposes annual and lifetime caps, turning back the clock to a time when insurers could deny coverage for life-saving treatments.

Children First for Oregon recently detailed how these structural and funding changes compromise the progress Oregon has made to provide access to health care coverage for 98% of children. Medicaid has worked well for over 50 years and continues to work well today. Congress needs to keep Medicaid whole and intact, so we can ensure a healthy future for our kids.

We thank House Representatives Blumenauer, Bonamici, DeFazio, and Schrader for standing up for children, seniors, people with disabilities, pregnant women, families, and those with pre-existing conditions who will pay a dangerous price if this bill becomes law. And we’re counting on Senators Wyden and Merkley to work with their colleagues in the Senate to protect Medicaid.

Cuts to Medicaid Threaten Oregon Kids

Despite low high school graduation rates, a persistent achievement gap, and stubborn child poverty rates, Oregon has made monumental strides in one particular area: health care. Between Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), ninety-eight percent of children have access to health care coverage in the state. Investing in Oregon’s future by increasing health care coverage for kids is one of our greatest accomplishments.

Oregon’s success is in jeopardy if members of Congress continue to consider health care reform proposals that restructure Medicaid. Many of these proposals, including the American Health Care Act (AHCA), cap and constrain Medicaid spending through per-capita-caps or block grants. A per-capita-cap limits federal funding per enrollee, whereas a block grant gives every state a fixed amount of federal funding each year. Both significantly restructure Medicaid in ways that shift cost burdens to states and cut coverage for our most vulnerable residents.

The current Medicaid structure allows states and the federal government to work in partnership to guarantee health care coverage for low-income families. Under a per-capita-cap or block grant system, the federal government would put limits on funding for Medicaid and states would be responsible for covering the remaining costs. Since Oregon has a balanced budget requirement, retaining coverage for kids in Oregon would likely mean cuts in other parts of the budget, placing programs that support the most vulnerable at risk.

Since 1965, Medicaid coverage for children and youth has decreased high school dropout rates, hospitalizations, and adolescent mortality rates, while raising income, wealth, and college graduation rates. Medicaid is the single largest health insurer of children in the country. In fact, Medicaid payments account for two out of every three federal dollars that come to Oregon. Thanks to Medicaid, Oregon has been able to give kids a healthy start in life and to provide health care to pregnant women and low-income working families.

A per-capita-cap or block grant system threaten the progress our state has made in providing health care coverage for kids. Medicaid has worked well for over 50 years and continues to work well today. We need to make sure that Medicaid is kept whole and intact, so we can ensure a healthy future for our kids.