Progress on child nutrition and state fiscal relief in Washington, a challenge for the food stamp program, what works in home-visiting, and new scientific findings about the values of breastfeeding all made our news round-up this week. Texas state agencies also announced their plans for meeting an unthinkable directive from top elected leaders to reduce spending by 10%, even as the needs families face in our shaky economy climb ever higher.
If you are on our action alerts email list (and, if you aren't, please sign up), you already heard about what state agencies proposed in response to that directive. Among the items slated for cuts are medical services for children with special health needs, including life-threatening diseases like cystic fibrosis; funding for childhood vaccinations; $137 million for mental health services—a huge portion of the total— including hospital beds for children and adults in the most extreme circumstances; and an astounding 85% of the state's existing budget for child abuse prevention and early intervention. As we said in our action alert,
Agencies are not doing this because they think the state can afford to cut crucial programs and services that children and families need, nor because they want to add to the state's unemployment numbers. Instead, the cuts came about because elected leaders in Texas believe you, their constituent, think this should happen.
It is no exaggeration to say this plan would decimate vital services for Texas children and families. Consider just two of the proposed cuts. As we have explained here before, there are at least a couple of ways a state can save a child from one of the worst outcomes imaginable, something that makes headlines all over our state far too frequently: death at the hands of someone who is supposed to care for that child. Investing in proven child abuse prevention programs and addressing mental health and substance abuse challenges in the population are both highly correlated with preventing deaths from child abuse. Unfortunately, child abuse and neglect killed more children in Texas—a state with unconscionably low investments in both prevention and mental health—last year than any year on record. Now our state is weighing even more cuts that would gamble with children's lives.
This saga is only beginning. For now, the proposals this week remain just that. Where the story ends rests with you. Less than a year remains before leaders finalize our state budget. Your action can help change the conversation from "cuts and more cuts” to a more workable approach, such as utilizing state savings, closing tax loopholes, and bringing in more federal relief. We will have a meeting August 31 to discuss that approach more, and we hope you will join us. Either way, please commit to making your voice heard in Texas in the weeks and months ahead, so leaders remember at this important time that our children need our protection.
News and Reports Weekly Round-Up
Child and Maternal Health
8.6.10 Senate Passes Bill to Make School Lunches Healthy (Associated Press)
8.5.10 Senate Approves Enhanced Medicaid Funding, House Expected to Act Next Week (Georgetown Center for Children and Families)
8.2.10 Michelle Obama: A Food Bill We Need (Washington Post)
8.2.10 Breast Milk Sugars Give Infants a Protective Coat (New York Times)
More Health News...
8.6.10 Health and Human Service Cuts Would Harm Texas Children (Texans Care Newsroom)
8.6.10 Former Foster Kids Struggle to Get Records (Texas Tribune)
8.6.10 Number of Children Dying in Hot Cars on the Rise (KHOU)
More Protection News...
More Financial Security News...
Juvenile Justice Headlines
8.3.10 The Best Option for Texas and Kids: Keeping Children out of Adult Prison (State of the Children)
8.1.10 Texas' Largest Counties Sending Fewer to TYC (Grits for Breakfast blog)
More Juvenile Justice News…
Child Mental Wellbeing Headlines
8.4.10 How Preschool Changes the Brain (Wired Magazine)
8.2.10 Ed Policies Ignore Science on How/When Kids Learn (Washington Post)
More Mental Health News...
More About Kids
8.6.10 Proposed Health and Human Services Cuts Would Prove Costly for Texas (Texans Care press release)
8.4.10 State Budget Cuts Undermining the Recovery (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
8.1.10 What Works for Home Visiting Programs (ChildTrends)
More News About Kids…