Frequent Flyers Move the Hearts of Congress.

ImageMany have already begun to experience the harsh impacts of the foolish Budget Sequester that set in motion indiscriminate slashes to government funding on Friday, March 1, 2013. Budget experts said it would be very difficult to reverse the sequester, and most did not have insight into how to help the 600,000 women and young children projected to lose nutrition aid from the Women, Infants, and Children program, or the estimated 70,000 young kids projected to lose access to Head Start preschool. All we could do was keep advocating for a change of heart in Congress and to finally create our long-awaited “grand bargain” bipartisan budget deal. Some thought we’d have to wait for the second coming before that happened.

When the Sequester created furloughs for air traffic controllers who ensure flight safety, Congress received many complaints about delays from those who fly and the industries that support them. Lo and behold! Where there is a will, there is a way. The U.S. Congress speedily responded. Fight delays have been eliminated overnight. Then, they went home for a week long recess.

They went HOME?! They should have been just getting started.

Christians have long looked to Matthew 6:21 to understand the federal budget from a faith perspective: “Where your treasure lies, there will your heart be also.” Where are the hearts of Congress? Why respond with such urgency to flight delays, and leave waiting – indefinitely – the thousands for whom the sequester could mean homelessness, hunger, and family hardship. If our hearts are with “the least of these,” that is where we should invest our treasure. We have a Congress whose actions just sent our nation’s most vulnerable a message that their hardships are less of a priority than the inconvenience of light delays.

We are also a people of hope, and long before the sequester started, we said that there are faithful alternatives to sequestration. We still believe that, and we see the hope in Congress’ action, however flawed the timing and prioritization. It is not too late to reverse the sequester and pursue these faithful alternatives.

It is up to us to generate the will in Congress to make a better way forward. Tell them they must fly back from recess, fix the sequester, and set things right.

Please adapt and personalize your message to your Senators and Representative. If you or someone you know are personally impacted, it is important they know, so they can put face those who they are harming, and put you and those you care about in THEIR hearts. Ask them to reverse the sequester’s impact on the most vulnerable, and instead embrace a Faithful Budget that creates a Circle of Protection around the programs serving the most vulnerable — a budget that puts our treasure where our hearts lie.

Brave People Tell Department of Labor their Struggles Living on Minimum Wage

The stories pastors, chaplains, and charity workers too often hear behind closed doors and through frustrated tears are being brought to light. Acting Secretary of the United States Department of Labor Seth Harris has hit the road to listen to people struggling to get by on the minimum wage. Courageous people are publicly coming forward to tell their stories of personal pain, indignity, and frustration in the interest of creating the will to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.00 an hour by 2015. The truth is, $9.00 an hour is not going to provide a living wage that creates dignified access to the family security and opportunity to realize potential that God intends for all. In fact, one person did directly tell Secretary Harris that $9.00 is insufficient. Yet, it is a start, and if it passes, it will make a difference for those who have not had a raise in years.

Acting Secretary Harris has traveled to Phoenix, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Tampa, Boston, Orlando, Cleveland and Philadelphia. Here are a few of the stories people were brave enough to share with Acting Secretary Harris.

Dad Sells His Blood for Money to Feed His Family

At the Ebenezer Church of God in Christ in Las Vegas, Nevada, Stacey Brundson, a father of two, said he has donated blood to bring in extra cash just to help his family afford the basics. “Sometimes there’s not enough in my paycheck to make it through the month,” said Brundson. Thankfully, Stacey has family in the area; otherwise, he would have no childcare options when he has to work.

Dishwasher Chooses Between the Car Payment for Transportation to his Minimum Wage Job, Or Phone Service to Get a Better Paying Job.

Corey, a dishwasher in the hospitality industry in Cincinnati, chose to make his car payment this month. As a result, he couldn’t afford to pay his phone bill before service was discontinued.  The day before Acting Secretary Harris met with him, Corey missed a call about a new job opportunity because his phone service had been suspended.

Staying Positive to Care for “the Least of These,” Despite Getting Her Lights Shut Off Four Times in a Year

Jane works at a homeless shelter in Atlanta, which pays a little more than her previous minimum wage job. Her lights have been turned off four times in the past year, and she has had to rely on friends and a sympathetic landlord to support her through these periods. Not paying Jane enough to keep her lights on is no way to treat someone who gets up every day to go to work, stays positive, and strives to contribute to those around her.

Mother Has to Tell Her Smart, Ambitious Daughter She Can’t Pay College Tuition

Kizzie is a state-tested nursing assistant in Cleveland, Ohio. She’s a single mother of three, with an oldest daughter who is graduating high school this year. Her daughter has been accepted to the University of Cincinnati, but Kizzie worries about being able to support her decision to go to college; “how am I supposed to tell my daughter that I’m not going to make the tuition payment?” she asked. On top of having to provide for her family’s daily necessities, Kizzie’s landlord raised her rent $300 per month this year, forcing her to make some difficult decisions. “I come to work sometimes broken, but you would never know,” she said. “I don’t show it.”

Feeding Mom and Grandma on Minimum Wage is a Struggle.

Shedaya Ivy works at McDonald’s at minimum wage and is attending community college. She lives at home with her grandmother and aunt. For her, a higher minimum wage would mean she “can make sure her grandmother and aunt are ok” and ensure they “have food in the house.” “As long as my family is ok,” she says “I’m ok.”

Worked at the Same Place Since Age 11 and Can’t Afford Medicine

Kineta lives in Las Vegas. Her job at a national retail chain pays near the state minimum wage, has been working since she was 11. “Working is in my blood,” she told me. “But every year I feel like I make less.” When Kineta can’t afford her blood pressure medication, she either goes without or borrows similar medication from friends – whether or not the dosage is right.

Missing Bills to Provide for a 5-year-old on $16,000/year

Heather Quick earns minimum wage in Cincinnati, Ohio and is trying to provide for her 5-year-old son. “A lot of times things go unpaid because you have to eat, have to make sure you get to work and get your kid to school.” Quick works part time at a local store but says the business has made recent cutbacks which have cut into her hours even more. Quick says she doesn’t want the wage increase to help her get ahead. She just wants to stay afloat. “I would have more money to do things that are a necessity. Not things that I want, but things that I need and that my son needs.”

Working While Living in a Youth Homeless Shelter

Colby, age 22, lives in Las Vegas. He works part time and relies on a community agency for shelter. “This shirt I’m wearing?” he began. “I’ve had it since I was 18, and these shoes since I was 17. The only thing I know I have to have is food.”

Mothering a Child with Down Syndrome on a Minimum Wage Income

Anita lives in Pheonix and has a degree in economics. She has four children, two of whom have special needs. She’s regularly forced to choose between working enough hours to put food on the table and accompanying her kids to a long list of doctor’s appointments. Anita had to take her son with down syndrome to 11 doctors appointments in the past week. She receives state assistance and says “you can’t judge people who are working, but still need to get help. I’m not a lazy person, trust me. A raise in the minimum wage is just about fairness, and about giving people a fighting chance to achieve the American Dream.”

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Acting Secretary Harris is actively supporting the President’s proposal to raise the minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour by 2015. It would boost the earnings of those who shared their stories, along with approximately 15 million workers nationwide, and put additional money in their pockets for necessities like food, clothing and shelter.

Harris reflected on the people he met: “I’ve met workers of every age, race, ethnicity and background. In superficial ways, they could have not been more different. But what unites all of them is this: the desire to work hard and the opportunity to make life better for themselves and their families. Too many of them are stuck at a wage that forces them to depend on the generosity of community organizations, family, friends or government just to stay above water. I haven’t met anyone who is looking for a handout. To the contrary, they just want a fair wage so they don’t have to rely on others.”

The individuals above are sharing the burden of putting their stories out to the public to raise awareness about how bad things have gotten, how impossible it is to live on minimum wage. While $9.00 an hour will not create the change Harris sees we need, we live in hope. If these brave individuals could come forward with their stories, every person who reads their stories and respects them should honor their courage by joining them in the faithful struggle to improve wages.  Go to Let Justice Roll to find out how you can get involved in the struggle for a living wage. As Dr. King said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

See the Department of Labor blog, the origin of the stories above, here.

Faithful Budget Updated for FY 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 15, 2013

CONTACT: Casey Schoeneberger, 202-569-4254, casey@faithinpubliclife.org

 
 

Prominent Faith Leaders Urge Congress & President Obama to Stand by Commitment to Fellow Americans

Faithful Budget for FY 2014 demonstrates how federal budget choices can and must reflect America’s shared values

(Click here to see the Faithful Budget (.pdf))

(Washington, DC) – A prominent coalition of America’s major national religious organization and leaders today unveiled the “Faithful Budget for FY 2014” an expression of the faith community’s budget priorities that stands in stark contrast to the partisan budget proposals currently under consideration. The document is a set of comprehensive and compassionate budget principles that promotes values shared by diverse faiths: protection of the common good, the value of each individual and lifting the burden on those living at the economic margins of society.

“The Faithful Budget reflects our vision of a responsible fiscal plan that focuses on justice and economic opportunity for all,” said Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director, Network, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. “While ensuring adequate resources through a fair tax system, it prioritizes human security and care for Creation while it supports measures to address the moral scandal of rising inequality. We call on Congress to adopt its core principles, which exemplify the values and compassion of our faith traditions and nation as a whole.”

Joining with the release of Faithful Budget for FY2014, Sister Simone and Rev. Chuck Currie of the United Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon, published an op-ed in The Hill’s Congress Blog today, detailing why President Obama’s latest budget “…falls short of the moral vision many faith leaders have for this country and the president’s own ideals as he embodied in his second Inaugural Address.” 

With the latest release, the faith community calls on Congress and President Obama to atone for their budgets’ more shortfalls by restoring economic opportunity, ensuring adequate resources for shared priorities, meeting critical human needs at home and abroad, accepting intergenerational responsibility, using the gifts of creation sustainably and responsibly, providing access to health care for all, and recognizing a robust role for government.

“The Faithful Budget recognizes that our lives here in America are inextricably bound together with the lives of all others around the world,” said Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO, Church World Service. “God’s abundant provision means that there is enough for all, if we act with justice and compassion. As a people, we can be compassionate neighbors creating security and prosperity for ourselves and for all by helping to end hunger and extreme poverty throughout the world.”

The Faithful Budget for FY 2014 Preamble, which has been endorsed by 44 religious denominations and organizations, calls on Congress and President Obama “to craft a federal budget that fulfills our shared duty to each other in all segments of society, to those who are struggling to overcome poverty or are especially vulnerable, and to future generations through our collective responsibility as stewards of Creation.”

“As the prophets have taught us, our community is like one body, and when one part of it aches, the entire community awakens in a fever,” said Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America. “Now is the time to awaken to the pain of those who are poor and vulnerable among us, both here in America and around the world.  As people of faith, we are committed to ensuring that our nation’s federal budget reflects the moral conscience of the American people by providing protection to those in our community that need it most.”

Faithful Budget for FY 2014 builds on the Faithful Budget for FY 2013 released in March 0f 2012 and the Faithful Budget Campaign, an effort launched by the religious community in May 2011 to lift up faithful voices on behalf of the nation’s most vulnerable in order to encourage the administration and Congress to maintain a robust commitment to domestic and international poverty assistance programs.

“Our Jewish tradition commands us to ‘do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God’ (Micah 6:8),” said Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. “Is justice a father working full-time who still cannot support his family on a minimum wage salary? Is mercy a mother who is forced to choose between feeding her children and paying for their medicine? Are we walking humbly as we pass thousands sleeping outdoors each night? We can do better. We must do better. This Faithful Budget is a call to recognize the inherent dignity of each and every human being, a call to honor the spark of the divine that is present in every one of us, a call to action.”

Additional details about the Faithful Budget Campaign can be found at www.faithfulbudget.org. The Faithful Budget for FY2014 was spearheaded by some of the nation’s most recognizable Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith-based organizations united by shared beliefs to lift up the nation’s most vulnerable and demonstrate that America is a better nation when we follow our faiths’ imperatives to promote the general welfare of all individuals. A full list of the faith-based organizations that endorsed the preamble-principles of the Faithful Budget are included below.

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American Friends Service Committee

Arkansas Interfaith Alliance Bread for the World 

Center of Concern 

Center on Conscience and War

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

Christian Connections for International Health

Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice

Church of the Brethren 

Church World Service

Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Council of Churches of Rhode Island

Delaware Ecumenical Council of Children

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Faithful Reform in Health Care 

Florida Council of Churches

Franciscan Action Network

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Institute Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Interfaith Worker Justice – New Mexico

Islamic Society of North America

Jesuit Conference 

Jubilee USA Network    

Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, United States Province

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Mennonite Central Committee US

Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network

Minnesota Council of Churches

Muslim Public Affairs Council

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund

National Council of Churches of Christ, USA

NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

North Carolina Council of Churches

Pax Christi USA

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Presbyterian Church (USA), Office of Public Witness

Progressive National Baptist Convention

Unitarian Universalist Association

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

Join in Asking for a Faithful Farm Bill

Can’t Make it to Ecumenical Advocacy Days?

Join with thousands of faith voices in our 2013 Legislative ASK:

A FULL, MULTI-YEAR REAUTHORIZATION OF THE FARM BILL.

Our nation’s food and farm policies, as embodied in the farm bill, affect people from rural America to inner cities, from our local communities to less industrialized regions around the world. The farm bill is the single largest piece of federal policy impacting our food system. A good farm bill can strengthen nutrition programs, help our struggling rural communities, support new and socially disadvantaged farmers, enhance global food aid to the world’s most impoverished, and encourage farming and ranching practices that protect God’s creation. Congress failed to pass a farm bill in 2012, and a number of important programs that promote a just and healthy food system are currently without funding. Other programs are continuing, but need the certainty provided by a multi-year farm bill.
Congress should enact a farm bill this year that alleviates hunger and malnutrition, supports vibrant farms and healthy communities, and protects God’s creation. Send an email to Congress, urging them to support a full, multi-year reauthorization of the farm bill that:
hunger food stamps
Alleviates hunger and malnutrition:
  • Protects and strengthens programs that reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the United States. We ask that funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) be protected from cuts and harmful structural changes that would increase hunger in our nation.
  • Sustains robust international food aid and improves the nutritional quality of food aid. In view of the ongoing threat of high food prices, natural disasters and humanitarian crises around the world, we ask for robust funding for programs that provide emergency and non-emergency food aid for the hungry. As the world’s largest provider of international food aid, the United States must also lead the way in improving its quality to maximize the nutritional benefit.
Supports vibrant farms and strong communities:
  • Helps beginning farmers and farmers from socially disadvantaged groups start in the business of agriculture.
  • We ask Congress to support new farmers by funding programs that are critical in growing the next generation of farmers, an imperative goal in light of the aging of American farmers and in bolstering women and minority farmers.
Builds local and regional food systems and the rural communities at their center.
  • For communities in the United States, we ask Congress to support programs such as the Farmers Market Promotion Program, which provides new markets for small and mid-sized farmers in suburbs and cities, offering consumers the opportunity to support local producers and giving people in vulnerable communities greater access to fresh food.
  • For communities around the world, we ask Congress to reform international food aid by purchasing more of the food in the areas where it is consumed. The Local and Regional Procurement Program can help more hungry people for the same cost, support rural development in low-income countries and increase global food security.
Protects God’s Creation:
  • Strengthens policies and programs that promote conservation of soil and water and protect creation from environmental degradation. We ask Congress to protect funding for conservation programs, particularly those for working lands such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, which have substantial waiting lists and serve a diverse base of farmers and ranchers. Funds for these programs should not be used to pay for other priorities. Farms and ranches account for a majority of the land base in many states, and play a key role in ensuring soil and water quality and in maintaining open space and wildlife habitat.

The Affordable Care Act and You: Resources

Rev. Cynthia Abrams, Director of Alcohol, Other Addictions, and Health Care for the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society recommended the following resources for individuals as well as faith-based agencies who need to know about implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Brochures & Educational Materials

Below you’ll find brochures and materials related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. For other brochures and resources visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/brochures/index.html. You can subscribe to Affordable Care Act implementation updates by emailing HHSIEA@hhs.gov.

Ø  ACA Educational PowerPoints

 

The Top Five Things You Need to Know

Ø  Families with Children (PDF – English 7.27 MBSpanish 1.23 MB)

Ø  Health Care Providers (PDF – English 2.71 MBSpanish  517 KB)

Ø  People with Disabilities (PDF – English 2.56 MBSpanish  930 KB)

Ø  Seniors (PDF – English 11.3 MBSpanish  1.54 MB)

Ø  Small Business Owners (PDF – English 4.22 MBSpanish 646 KB)

Ø  Young Adults (PDF – English 6.56 MBSpanish  919 KB)

Information for Consumers and Small Businesses

Ø  The Health Care Law & You (PDF – 8.99 MB)

Ø  Information for Small Businesses (PDF – 763 KB)

MyCare: Videos and Stories

Find videos and stories related to how the Affordable Care Act has helped individuals across the country. http://www.healthcare.gov/mycare/stories.html

The Affordable Care Act at Two Years

Ø  The Affordable Care Act and Women

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Gives American Families Greater Control Over Their Own Health Care

Ø  The Affordable care Act Gives Parents Greater Control Over Their Children’s Health Care

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps Young Adults

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps Seniors

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps African Americans

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps Latinos

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps Rural America

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps Women

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps Small Businesses

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps American Indians and Alaska Natives

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps Americans with Disabilities

Ø  The Affordable Care Act Helps LGBT Americans

Ø  Health Reform for American Veterans and Military Personnel

State by State Fact Sheets

Choose your state to learn more about the immediate benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

Ø  State By State Fact Sheets

Ø  Learn the facts and statistics about how the Affordable Care Act will benefit each state.

Regulations and Guidance

Regulations and guidance are used to implement many of the Affordable Care Act provisions that address both private and public health insurance.

Ø  Standards Related to Reinsurance, Risk Corridors and Risk Adjustment

Ø  Eligibility Changes under Affordable Care Act

Ø  Certain Preventive Services under Affordable Care Act

Ø  Student Health Insurance Coverage

Grants

The Affordable Care Act creates a number of new grant opportunities.  Below, you will find links to the grant centers for the agencies administering these grants.  There, and at Grants.gov, you can search for relevant grant opportunities.

Ø  CDC National Public Health Improvement Initiative (NPHII) Grants

Ø  Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Grants

Ø  Administration for Children and Families Grants

Ø  Administration on Aging Grants

Ø  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Ø  Health Resources and Services Administration Grants

Ø  Indian Health Service Grants

Ø  National Institutes of Health Grants

Ø  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Grants

Special Programs

Several new programs across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services support the work of the Affordable Care Act. You will find information about these programs on this page.

Ø  Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs

Councils & Groups

The Affordable Care Act establishes a number of councils and groups to carry out provisions in the law.  To learn more about the organizations, click on a link below:

Ø  Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO)

Ø  Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

Ø  Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality

Ø  National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council

What do YOU need? Minimum Wage Campaign Survey

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This summer, the NCC Poverty Initiative will raise awareness about the role of the minimum wage in lifting people out of poverty. We’d like to know what you’d find helpful. Will you take a moment to fill out our survey some time before the end of April?

Fill it out here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WZRJ79C

Easter Hope to End Child Poverty: Spring 2013

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Church of the Brethren Christian Citizenship Seminar 2013

Christ is risen, and Easter hope is alive among Christians working to end child poverty. Check out our Spring newsletter.

Read about how:

* the Church of the Brethren cultivates Christian citizenship ethics and skills in youth

* West Virginia and North Carolina faith leaders are tackling child poverty

* you can write to Congress and tell them how the Sequester is hurting children

* you can attend the Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.

Read about all this and more here.

Easter Blessings,

Shantha

Child Poverty Focus in 2013 Christian Citizenship Seminar for Church of the Brethren Youth

CCS 2013 GroupEach year for decades, The Church of the Brethren has hosted a week-long Christian Citizenship Seminar to foster civic education and leadership development among youth. In 2013, the seminar focused on how child poverty harms the development of families and communities. (See the promo materials here.) The group of 45 youth and their advisers examined how limited access to proper nutrition, housing, and education can have repercussions throughout the child’s entire life. They gathered to seek to understand how political and economic systems can be leveraged to create change in children’s access to basic human necessities, in their own states, and in the country as a whole. You can see their full advocacy ask for their legislative visits below, and click here to see a video overview of their week. They learned how Christian faith, expressed in theology and action, informs and shapes a Brethren response to child poverty.

Speakers included:

Our Day to End PovertyThey also watched the film “Inocente.” Inocente is an Oscar nominated documentary about a homeless teenager trying to make a life for herself in American society. Watch the trailer here.

The Christian Citizenship Seminar has had a big impact on many young people over the decades. 2011 and 2012 participant Evan Leiter-Mason said “As a person of faith, I believe that I cannot be neutral in politics. My experiences at CCS even inspired me to take further action by interning with the Advocacy and Peace Witness Office last summer. And now in college, I plan to study political science and economics so that I can be empowered to be a part of solutions to challenges facing today’s world.” He continues to encourage youth to participate. (Read his full reflection on the 2012 seminar here.)
CCS Group“CCS has been an important pillar in the Church of the Brethren’s efforts to not only teach our youth about public witness but for them to actually witness to the peace of Christ expressed in caring for need, justice, and opposing violence,” said Nate Hosler, Church of the Brethren Advocacy Officer. “This program is important as both a ministry to and by Brethren youth. We imagine and pray that not only will they be shaped by this experience but that the church as a whole will learn to more faithfully continue the work of Jesus.”

This year’s seminar was planned by the following Church of the Brethren staff: Becky Ullom, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry; Nate Hosler, Advocacy Officer; Rachel Witkovsky, National Junior High Conference Coordinator, and Jonathan Stauffer and Bryan Hanger, Advocacy Assistants

2013 Christian Citizenship Seminar “Advocacy Ask”

2013 Christian Citizenship Seminar

Childhood Poverty

 

We as individuals and as a church are working to address poverty and human need in our communities, nation, and globally. We are especially concerned with the impact of poverty on children. We call on Congress to take aggressive steps to maintain funding for critical programs supporting children both domestically and internationally. Such programs must support quality nutrition, education, and housing.

Reflecting the Need:

  • Childhood poverty is both a tragedy for the child and negatively affects individuals throughout their lifetime. The first 1000 days from pregnancy until age 2 are critical for adequate nutrition.
  • More than 48 million Americans, including more than 16 million children, live in households that struggle to put food on the table. Globally 925 million people suffer hunger and almost 16,000 children die every day from hunger-related causes.  Inadequate nutrition both inhibits development in children and hinders their ability to succeed in school.
  • In some situations, children must work to support their family and are pulled out of school. Inadequate childhood education dramatically reduces the ability of individuals to care for themselves, their families, and contribute to local community and economy. While childhood poverty does not mean that the individual is fated to this, it does make success much more difficult.
  • Homelessness and unstable housing puts a child’s future success at greater risk. Transitory housing also disrupts schooling and the ability to build strong social relationships and networks. The movement of upper-income families and individuals back into city centers along with the foreclosure crisis has greatly reduced the supply of stable and affordable housing.

We ask the United States Congress and Administration to:

  • Increase support for primary and secondary education
    • Federal education programs play a key role in ensuring all children have access to an education, regardless of family background or income. Nearly 50 million children are educated in public schools, many of which are in dire need of renovation and modernization.
    • Today, there are many challenges impacting the quality of education our nation’s students receive. At a time when education funding is being drastically reduced, we must keep in mind the cornerstone role education plays in personal success, innovation, and the economy.
    • Support flexibility to promote innovative and effective models of education.
    • US policy should strongly support the Millennium Development Goals as the world pushes to achieve these goals by 2015. MDGs 1 Eradicate Extreme Hunger and 2 Achieve Universal Primary Education are particularly important for addressing childhood poverty.
    • Ensure affordable housing, especially in urban contexts which are prone to sharp increases in the cost of housing.
      • Demand for rental housing is increasing due, in part, to the foreclosure crisis. This has forced rental prices to escalate and has created two significant new challenges in the affordable rental market. Low-wage workers are struggling to find affordable rentals, and the high unemployment rate exacerbates the need for additional units that are affordable to very-low-income and extremely low-income households. We call on Congress to provide additional units of housing that are affordable to very-low-and extremely low-income households by funding the already authorized National Housing Trust Fund.
      • Protect and Strengthen federal programs that support the nutritional needs of children.
        • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps households put food on the table during times of great need, keeping millions out of poverty. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children. Additionally, more than 20 million low-income children participated in the National School Lunch Program in 2011. While the same children are also eligible for the School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program, only about half received breakfast and 10 percent received summer meals. During the continuing budget debates it is imperative that these programs are protected.
        • Teach nutrition through school gardening programs which demonstrate growing, food preparation, and environmentally sustainable living.
        • Congress should support robust international food aid and improve its nutritional quality. Many majority world countries have rapidly expanding populations with high percentages of children and youth. If these young people are healthy and have opportunity they will avoid the risk of social instability and be a dynamic force in their communities.

For more information, or with questions, contact:

Nathan Hosler

Coordinator, Office of Public Witness

Church of the Brethren

nhosler@brethren.org

(717) 333-1649

How are jobs created?

Thoughts on job creation and wages from our new summer intern Nate Kratzer. Follow his blog: http://faithandpublicpolicy.wordpress.com