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Description: 2015: The Arkansas Session | 2015: The Florida Session | 2015: The Tennessee Session | Early Head Start- Child Care Partnership Grants | Building Pathways, Creating Roadblocks | From Our States

Public Policy Notes S outhe r n E a r ly C hild hood As s o ci a tio n Improving Lives for Low-Income Families in Rural America The United States Department of Agriculture has announced three new initiatives that will impact the ability of low-income families to move out of poverty and enhance their health status. to Secretary Vilsak. The results from the StrikeForce efforts to date demonstrate that partnership models are the key in building rural economies by creating jobs building homes feeding kids assisting farmers and conserving natural resources. This project was initiated in 2010 and focused on specific rural areas enduring the worst chronic poverty according to data from the National Census. StrikeForce teams have facilitated collaboration with more than 500 community partners and public entities to bring targeted assistance to these areas of extreme poverty. Click here to find a fact sheet with poverty statistics and information on StrikeForce initiatives in your state. May 2015 Public Policy Notes Inside this issue 2015 The Arkansas Session 2015 The Florida Session 2 2 Initiative 2 On that same day Secretary Vilsak announced that the USDA Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center would be established at the University of Kentucky Lexington. We reported on the new Center in the April issue of Public Policy Notes. Click here for a copy of the April issue and the in-depth article. Initiative 1 On March 19 2015 Secretary Vilsak announced an expansion of the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity to address chronic rural poverty in 32 identified counties in Oklahoma and the entire island of Puerto Rico. With this expansion the project now brings support to 880 counties parishes colonias boroughs and tribal reservations across 21 states and Puerto Rico. Projects exist in all SECA states. This initiative is designed to build the rural economy. With 85% of our country s persistent poverty counties in rural areas our commitment is especially deep in these communities. according 2015 The Tennessee 3 Session Early Head StartChild Care Partnership Grants 3 Building Pathways 3 Creating Roadblocks From Our States 4 Initiative 3 On May 5th USDA announced the availability of competitive funding to support the ability of farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. SNAP recipients can now purchase fresh fruit vegetables at more than 6 200 farmers markets and direct marketing farms. News to Note On May 5th the Senate passed a budget agreement the first Congressional budget agreement in six years. The agreement was passed earlier by the House and includes deep cuts for domestic programs to eliminate deficits. This agreement will serve as the framework to set spending levels. 2015 The Arkansas Legislative Session Some Acts Bills to Note Act 296 (HB 1365) extended the Arkansas Legislative Task Force on Abused and Neglected Children until 2017. The Task Force was originally scheduled to expire on June 30 2015. Act 46 (SB96) extended the Medicaid expansion known as the Private Option until 2016 and created a task force to study whether it would be maintained beyond that date. Act 1286 (HB 1037) created a pilot program for kindergarten through 12th grade agriculture schools. This pilot program is to focus on career readiness for agricultural businesses and jobs. Act 337 (HB 1263) created a waiver program for small school districts that would have formerly been subject to forced consolidation. Governor Hutchison announced on May 10th that he will call a special session (May 26th) to approve a bond to support an economic development project in southern Arkansas. All in all most of the legislative activity in Arkansas centered around finances and cutting tax rates. 2015 The Florida Legislative Session With this lead in to the summary of Florida s 2015 legislative session Roy Miller of the The Children s Campaign in Florida said it all on May 1st. Much like a jilted high school senior on prom night the Florida public was left sitting at home when the Florida House of Representatives stayed true to their word and didn t dance. Regardless that taxpayers have paid for the corsages prom dresses tuxes limos and dinners the House of Representatives adjourned their session three days early--an unprecedented move that effectively killed any outstanding legislation....As foretold by The Children s Campaign and virtually every media outlet the contentious debate between the chambers about Medicaid expansion and Low Income Pool (LIP) funding imploded. A budget has not been passed and multiple important bills were left to die....The negotiations between the Florida House and Senate were torn apart by a 4 billion divide in health care funding. The Senate budget included 2.8 billion for their version of Medicaid expansion Florida Health Insurance Affordability Exchange (FHIX) and 2.2 billion from the federal government for LIP which funnels money to hospitals for low-income patients and is set to expire on June 30th. Source No Dancing as Session Ends with an Implosion www.iamforkids.org 5 1 15. At this point Governor Scott is considering calling a special session on June 1st to try to resolve the differences over the positions on health care funding and to pass operating budgets for state agencies. Before the Legislature tackles the issue in June Governor Scott met with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell on May 6th to outline the need for a waiver to avoid the loss of LIP funding. Today I met with HHS Secretary Burwell and requested that HHS reconsider LIP funding in Florida so the Legislature has the information they need to develop a budget.... The federal government should not just completely cut off a federal healthcare program for low income Floridians that has been working for years.... We want the HHS Secretary to approve our LIP waiver. Source Press Release Gov. Scott After Meeting with HHS 5 6 15. There were some bright spots in the session as several bills concerning juvenile justice human trafficking child welfare and child death investigations made it through. SB 7006 and HB 7017 would have addressed the health and safety of early learning environments bringing the state in compliance with federal requirements for funding....The Office of Early Learning would conduct a pilot project to study the impact of assessing the early literacy skills of certain VPK program participants etc. This is the second year that the bill has failed. Public Policy Notes 2015 The Tennessee Legislative Session Some Acts Bills to Note HB 0051 SB 1320 As enacted exempts certain drop-in centers providing short-term care from the child care agency licensure requirements of the department of human services by removing the requirement that such a center be operated by a not-for-profit corporation in order to be exempt. - Amends TCA Title 71. HB 0089 SB 0100 As enacted clarifies responsibilities of staffing agencies relative to obtaining and submitting fingerprint samples and disclosure forms for substitute employees at child care agencies. Amends TCA Title 71 Chapter 3 Part 5. HB 0577 SB 1373 requires child care agencies to submit the names of persons transporting children to the department of safety in order to be notified when the driver license of a person who transports children is suspended or revoked. Action deferred until 2016. After a failed special session in February to adopt Insure TN the Governor s plan for Medicaid expansion a bill was introduced in the 2015 session. It failed to get the votes necessary to get out of committee. Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Awards The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently awarded 500 million in Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Expansion Awards. These grants will allow new or existing Early Head Start programs to partner with local child care centers and family child care providers serving infants and toddlers from lowincome families. Programs and providers in all SECA states received expansion grants. Alabama 8.3 million Arkansas 7.6 million Florida 31.6 million Georgia 16.2 million Kentucky 8.2 million Louisiana 8.3 million Mississippi 6.7 million North Carolina Oklahoma South Carolina Tennessee Texas Virginia West Virginia 20.1 million 11.8 million 8.6 million 11.3 million 37.4 million 8.4 million 3 million For a list of the individual grantees in your state click here. Building Pathways Creating Roadblocks The National Women s Law Center has issued a new report Building Pathways Creating Roadblocks State Child Care Assistance Policies for Parents in School. Most states allow child care support for low-income parents who are attending school however there is quite often some type of constraint put on that support. The state may require that parents also work during this time limit Volume 8 Issue 5 the amount of time that support is available or restrict the type of degree that can be earned while receiving support. Education and training opportunities help parents trying to gain more stable employment with better pay and benefits. Studies have demonstrated that higher education levels are associated with an increased likelihood of employment higher earnings receiving health care retirement and other benefits through one s job and better health--all of which have a positive impact on both parents and children. The report includes tables that identify assistance policies by state. Page 3 Southern Early Childhood Association 1123 S. University Ste 255 Little Rock AR 72204 Phone 800-305-SECA Fax 501-227-5297 E-mail info southernearlychildhood.org www.southernearlychildhood.org How to Use Public Policy Notes If you re interested in advocacy one of the most effective tools that you can have is access to information. This newsletter is provided as a service to locate and share information that we think will be helpful to you in your work at the state level and to keep you updated on what s happening in public policy. You ll find information that Compares your state to other SECA states--how you re doing what issues you have in common what the hot topics are in your states. Brings the national scene to your fingertips and gives you a perspective on how national events might impact you...You ll also receive information about where to find additional information. We hope you ll find it helpful. Children need you to be their voice in your community and state. This monthly newsletter is produced by Glenda Bean SECA Executive Director. SECA strives to provide non-partisan and non-biased information A Voice for Southern Children that is of interest to early childhood educators. Sign up at http www.southernearlychildhood.org policy_newsletter_sign.php to receive notice of its availability each month. From Our States TENNESSEE itol booths of service providers and vibrant children s handprints hanging inside from the rotunda. Underlying Children s Week this year was a significant amount of tension between service organizations vying for what they believe is right for kids. Debates about group homes vs. foster families afterschool standards vs. childcare licensing and the rights of homosexuals to adopt vs. the beliefs of private adoption agencies widened the divide. WEST VIRGINIA With the release of a report in February by the Annie E. Casey Foundation West Virginia and the nation celebrated a reduction in the number of children who live in poverty. The report Measuring Access to Opportunity uses a new index The state of Tennessee has created KidsCentraltn.com a website that offers information on child development for parents and a link that will assist parents in finding child family services in that state. FLORIDA On a Tuesday in April children and adults descended upon the Florida State Capitol to make the case for supporting services for children. According to the IAmForKids Campaign Children s Day provided beautiful photo ops smiling kids straining to see the historic cap- Photo retrieved from http iamforkids.org (the Supplemental Poverty Measure or SPM) for measuring the effect of safety net programs and tax policies on families. With this new index the national rate for children in poverty has declined to 18%. The rate in West Virginia declined from 30% to 13% and only 3 of the SECA states rank in the top 7 for the highest poverty rate. California comes in at 1 with Florida at 4 Louisiana at 5 and Georgia at 6.