Family & Children

Asset Building News Week, Nov 11-15

November 15, 2013
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include savings, economic mobility, SNAP cuts, housing, and homeownership.

Asset Building News Week, November 4-8

November 8, 2013
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include housing, implications of SNAP cuts, retirement savings, and poverty.

Amid Financial Collapse Detroit Builds a Promising Early Learning Model

October 7, 2013
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This guest post was written by Paul Nyhan, a journalist and early education expert. He writes about early education at Thrive by Five Washington.

In the next few months, guest blogger Paul Nyhan will provide a window onto four places around the country where federal grant programs, including Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, the Social Innovation Fund, Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods, are triggering changes in early childhood systems. In this post, the second in Nyhan’s series, he explores how Detroit is using a Social Innovation Fund grant to help improve early learning. The first post in the series was "Washington Races Forward In First Year of its Early Learning Challenge Grant."

Detroit may be bankrupt, but it is also home to an early learning model that was promising enough to win a Social Innovation Fund grant in 2011 to figure out just how effective it is.

It began five years ago, when the United Way for Southeastern Michigan started building its Early Learning Communities platform. The intent was to nearly double the percentage of low-income children ready for kindergarten in Detroit. But the effort had been slowed by challenges documenting which parts worked and by a lack of money to pay for expansion.

Then two years ago the group won a $4 million Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant to do both. The grant allowed the United Way to be a middleman and a mentor. It started by awarding smaller grants to 11 non-profits that formed a web of nearly every aspect of early learning in the city, from family, friend, and neighbor child care to nutritional counseling. Then it helped these groups develop tools to measure, evaluate, and replicate what they were doing.

The Future of Fair Housing and the Promise of Local Journalism

October 3, 2013
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For the past year, Baltimore’s local NPR affiliate station, WYPR, has produced a one-of-a-kind radio project called The Lines Between Us. Representing the best in local journalism, the series exposed listeners of the local news program Maryland Morning to the pressing issues of inequality and race that affect the city. While the community’s problems continue, the time-limited series has reached its end. The program staged a live recording of its final episode last Thursday at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, a fitting host for the show given the institution’s consonant goals of social justice. The program, upon which the reflections of this post are based, will air tomorrow, Friday, October 4th, and will be available online at linesbetweenus.org soon thereafter.

Just Who is Middle Class?

September 17, 2013

Dylan Matthews at Wonkblog does us all a service today by passing around this chart from today's Census Bureau release on Income, Poverty and Insurance:

As he notes in his post, "If you're in a family of four, and your family's income surpasses $66,000 a year, you're doing better than the typical American family. If you're making six figures, then you're doing much better than the typical American family. If you're making $200,000 or more, you're in truly rarified territory."

Asset Building News Week, August 19-23

August 23, 2013
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The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include public assistance, homelessness, jobs, debt, and retirement.

Event Summary: First Focus Children’s Budget Summit

July 25, 2013
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Editor’s note: This post was authored by Calum Montell-Boyd, a summer intern with the Asset Building Program. Calum is working toward his undergraduate degree in History and Politics at Oxford University in the UK.

On Wednesday, First Focus hosted the Children’s Budget Summit 2013, sponsored by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray. The event marked the release of the Children’s Budget, which highlights the declining federal investment in children at a time when almost one in four is growing up in poverty.

SNAP Cuts and the Classroom

July 17, 2013
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Editor's note: This post originally appeared on New America's In the Tank blog. Our managing editor, Fuzz Hogan, spoke with Aleta Sprague of the Asset Building Program and Clare McCann, with the Education Policy Program, about legislative developments affecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, often known as food stamps).

As the Farm Bill's fate lies in a swirl of confusion and acrimony on Capitol Hill, we asked two New America experts to assess the impact of the House move to separate SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance) from the bill. Beyond all the coverage of the legislative wins and losses, the way the bill was put together could have far-ranging impact, on our economy and our schools, unless, of course, promises to take up SNAP in future legislation fund it to present levels.

Q 1 – Aleta, what does leaving SNAP out of the farm bill mean for the program?

Aleta: The House’s decision to leave SNAP out of the Farm Bill entirely sends a clear message to families in poverty: they are not Congress’ priority. It’s worth noting that of the 23 million families currently participating in SNAP, 76% include a child or elderly or disabled family member. While benefits will continue at their current levels for now, leaving SNAP out of the bill paves the way for even deeper cuts than the $20.5 billion the House proposed earlier this summer.

Q2 – Clare, how do cuts in SNAP impact education?

Clare: Almost half of SNAP recipients are children. They lack access to adequate amounts of food, and possible cuts to the program come at a time in their lives when they are extremely vulnerable to the health, cognitive, and even academic impacts of hunger. Research has demonstrated that children without adequate access to food also struggle in school.

Kindergarten's Leap Into the Virtual Classroom

July 12, 2013
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Technology has vastly altered the way students can attend schools- and many people may be surprised to learn that virtual schooling extends even to kindergartners. In fact, online offerings for kindergarten have been around for more than a decade, though early childhood experts continue to question whether these programs meet young children’s early developmental needs.
 
Online K-12 schools have provided students with alternative schooling options since the early 2000s. Each year, enrollment in such programs has grown by at least 20 to 25 percent.

Guest Post: Equality and Justice for All Families

July 12, 2013

Editor's note: This guest post was authored by Catherine Myers, the volunteer executive director of the national grassroots nonprofit Family and Home Network, founded in 1984.

Americans are passionate about equality and justice, and we should apply those principles to family policy discussions. We need to transform the prevailing frame—the focus on “working families”—to one that embraces all families with inclusive family policies.

The lens of equality and justice would illuminate the disparity between the value of parents’ roles in raising healthy children and the level of economic support provided to parents. Inclusive family policies would support parents equally regardless of how they choose to meet their income-earning and caregiving responsibilities. Policymakers striving for equality and justice would rely on robust research that shows how to improve the well-being of parents and their children by lifting families out of poverty and by implementing best practices in maternity care as well as in child and parent development.

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