6.18.13 Lawmakers Ponder Sentencing Fix for Teen Murders|
Gov. Rick Perry expanded
the agenda of the special session to include legislation establishing a
mandatory sentence of life with parole for 17-year-olds convicted of
capital murder. In a Texas Tribune article, our Juvenile Justice Policy Associate Lauren Rose weighed in, saying juries and judges should be able to consider whether factors such as age, home
environment, peer pressure or other influences mean that an offender
should receive a lesser sentence than life.
5.28.13 Texas Child Welfare Agency Struggling to Keep Caseworkers
Child Welfare Policy Associate Ashley Harris is also a former Child Protective Services caseworker. She spoke to KUT News about a new report from the Texas State Auditor about high rates of turnover and job vacancies for CPS caseworkers and how high caseloads that get in the way of helping children is part of the problem.
5.17.13 Health Insurance Needs
In an Austin American-Statesman letter to the editor, our Hogg Foundation Mental Health Policy Fellow Clayton Travis explained the need for a Texas health care solution. "Our state can still work with federal authorities to develop a "Texas
solution" and accept available dollars so that more than 1 million
uninsured Texans get the care and treatment they need," Travis wrote. "Health coverage
does improve lives, and, as other research has shown, it saves lives,
5.13.13 House Panel OKs Parole After 40 Years for Young Murderers
The Texas Tribune reports that a House panel Monday unanimously approved a measure that would allow
defendants younger than 18 to receive life sentences and be eligible for
parole after 40 years. Our juvenile justice expert Lauren Rose said that judges making decisions about sentencing "need to take into account all of these different factors. The brain is not fully developed until 25. The trigger mechanism of
'Oh, I shouldn't be doing this' isn't always there."
5.2.13 Garcia: In Case You Haven't Noticed, It's Raining
Our CEO Eileen Garcia writes an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman urging our political leaders to use the resources we have to "stabilize our economy to put Texas on a better path." Neither budget proposals being considered by the current state Legislature cover the basics for our communities and our children, Garcia states, and our schools and hospitals will remain struggling. By restoring 2011 budget cuts and using the rainy day fund Garcia writes, we can meet our state's needs.
4.25.13 Bill Aims to Limit Testing of Preschoolers, Kindergarteners
Senate Bill 1608 would restrict the bubble-in testing that school districts and the Texas Education Agency could require for pre-K and kindergarten students. KUT News quoted our early childhood expert Andrea Brauer, who opposed the bill. Texans Care for Children opposes the bill because it could lead to the less frequent usage of important screenings that
help identify developmental delays and disabilities in children, and that, ultimately, isn't good for kids.
4.23.13 Senate Approves Bill Targeting Child Hunger
The Texas Tribune reports that the one in four Texas children who are food insecure could be assured a free meal every school day - breakfast - if a bill approved by the Senate continues to advance. Our health policy expert mentioned another way to provide Texans with access to healthy food. "Support for community gardens and urban agriculture could help more
Texans access fruits and vegetables," Dimitry said.
3.13.13 Travis County Could Get Own Youth Lockup
The Austin American-Statesman reports legislation would allow Travis County and others across Texas to open their own prisons for teenaged lawbreakers for the first time. Our juvenile justice policy expert Lauren Rose tesified that the local lockups
should meet or exceed standards for the state facilities, and that
protections in state law for youthful offenders in state-run lockups
should also cover those in the local ones.
3.4.13 Views on Medicaid Reform Vary
In light of the Texas Medicaid Matters Advocacy Day, Abilene Reporter-News interviewed our Hogg Academy Mental Health Fellow Clayton Travis about Medicaid expansion. "Medicaid expansion would add 1.3 million Texans to Medicaid," Travis said. Travis noted that those added would gain coverage that would include physical and mental health services.
2.25.13 Perry Ignoring Uncomfortable Pre-K Truths
Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg, who spoke to our staff member Kara Johnson, expressed concern in her article about early education in Texas. "It's hard to start a
discussion on expanding pre-K or even on strengthening the quality of
programs in Texas these days when we are just fighting to get back what
we lost last session," Falkenberg said.
2.13.13 Report: Texas Could Save Money by Addressing Children's Needs
The San Antonio-Express News shared findings from Texans Care for Children's 2013 report that found the state could save billions of dollars by putting more children on a path to success through smart policy choices.
2.13.13 Texas Loses Money by Ignoring Children's Needs
The San Antonio Current covered the release of a Texans Care for Children report based on a year-long study. Our CEO Eileen Garcia explains, "what this report makes clear is that the decisions today by the
legislature to get more children on the right path -- so children are
prepared for school and can grow up healthy, safe, and thriving --
represent a choice to advance our state's prosperity for years to come."
2.11.13 Advocates Call on State to Step Up Efforts to Fight Hunger
The Texas Tribune spoke to Texans Care for Children's health policy advocate Lauren Dimitry about the responsible ways Texas can address hunger while providing nutritious food options for children and families.
2.6.2013 Report: Poor Well-Being of Texas Children Costs an Extra $20 Billion
A KUT News article describes children's policy recommendations made in a newly released Texans Care for Children report. Our CEO Eileen Garcia explains, "we're losing so much potential in our children, and as our report
highlights there are real hard financial costs when we don't give
children the support they need to grow up successful."
1.27.2013 There's Downside to Schoolhouse Cops
A San Antonio Express-News op-ed written by our juvenile justice expert, Lauren Rose, describes the downside to increasing the presence of police officers in schools. Rose explains, "ticketing by police officers, arrests on campus and discipline practices
that remove kids from the classroom instead of keeping them where they
learn happen more often with police officers in schools."
1.26.2013 Kids are a Great Investment in Texas
An Austin American-Statesman op-ed written by Texans Care
staff explains what Texas can do to provide a brighter future for its
6.6 million children. Investments in health, education, child
protection, juvenile justice, and early opportunities can help ensure
the Texas of tomorrow will be better than the Texas of today.
1.18.2013 Strama Bill Would Pay Childcare Centers More for High Marks on State Evaluation
Rep. Mark Strama has filed House Bill 376, which aims to provide more funding to an early childhood education certification program called Texas Rising Star. The Texas Observer spoke with Kara Johnson, our early childhood education expert, who said the program is the state's best bet for measuring childcare provider quality.
1.11.2013 Agenda Texas: Funding Pre-School Education
The 83rd Texas State Legislature has more than $101 billion dollars to spend in the next session, according to the state Comptroller Susan Combs, and advocates are speaking up about restoring funds to education programs. KUT News and the Texas Tribune spoke to our early childhood education expert Kara Johnson about the benefits of investing in early childhood education. When you invest in high quality care, the
key is high quality, you get a 350 percent return on your investment,"