Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Momentum on Health Reform

There is new hope for the millions of uninsured and underinsured children, youth, and older adults. Later today, Congressional leaders and the President will convene in the Blair House, across from the White House, to discuss the future of health reform. Earlier this week the President released his own proposal that makes a number of important changes to the Senate health care bill that passed earlier this year. Nobody expects there to be unanimous agreement over the President’s proposal today, but people do deserve a reasonable and constructive debate from our nation’s leaders.

Inaction on health care reform is not an option; the rolls of the uninsured will continue to rise, while others will face higher premiums and shrinking coverage. Generations United is pleased President Obama and Congress have decided to continue the important work to make sure people of all ages have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PA Seniors4Kids Bernard Chatman in Chronicle of Philanthropy

Looking for inspiration? PA Seniors4Kids Captain Bernard Chatman shared his story in last week's edition of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. You must be a Chronicle subscriber to read the entire article, which includes the following eloquent words from Bernard:

"We must invest in high-quality pre-kindergarten programs to give every child the ability to become more productive in ways that benefit all of us economically and socially as well. Pre-kindergarten programs don’t just help individual children and their families, they provide benefits for generations to come through creating stronger communities, responsible citizens, and successful students.

On my most recent birthday, I turned 59. My contemporaries and I do not see ourselves as old. We believe our lives have just started.

We are blessed with wisdom and the experience of long lives, and we have much to give to the generations who follow us. When we see children who are troubled by difficulties in school or in life, we have learned not merely to say, “What’s wrong?” but also to ask, “How can I help?”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

From the Policy Desk: What the Presidential Budget Commission Should Do

Today, President Obama signed an executive order establishing the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform made up of six presidential appointees and twelve appointees from Congressional leaders. The commission is tasked with reaching an overwhelming consensus (14 of 18 members must agree) on a plan to close the federal deficit by the middle of the decade, as well as making sure the long-term budget outlook of the United States is sustainable. I’ve blogged about the dangers of budget commissions before, but I thought it might be helpful to suggest three positive things the budget commission could do.

1. Strengthen Social Security for all ages. Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in this country’s history. It provides invaluable support for current retirees, future retirees and children. Social Security will continue to run a surplus until 2023, but faces a relatively modest long-term shortfall. The commission should reach out to Social Security actuaries and put together a package of reforms that strengthens both the program’s adequacy and solvency.

2. Our children, youth, and seniors need critical investments across the lifespan. Our budget should reflect the values of our nation and our commitment to protect the most vulnerable.

3. Provide a budget plan that raises adequate revenues. A new report from the Center for Economic Policy Research points out that our budget woes are largely driven by the great recession and changes in the tax policy last decade.

Seniors4Kids stand up for early childhood education

In Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, older adults are gathering together to show support for quality early childhood education. Their voices are being heard.

Today in Frankfort, Kentucky, Kentucky Seniors4Kids Captains raised their voices for children at the Capitol Rotunda, meeting legislators, writing letters and participating in an intergenerational activity with AmeriCorps members.

Pennsylvania Seniors4Kids made headlines today with a letter to the editor published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by State Coordinator Yvonne Thompson-Friend.

New York Seniors4Kids State Coordinator Paul Arfin had a letter to the editor published in the New York Times this month as well.

For more, see the Seniors4Kids website.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snowed In

Hello all,
Here in D.C. we've been snowed under for about a week now -- but our staff has been working diligently from home and in our Texas office!

Connect for Kids has a great Q&A with Brenda Eheart, founder and CEO of Generations of Hope, which created Hope Meadows, the intergenerational community in Rantoul, Illinois, where families adopt neglected and abused children from the foster care system.

She speaks eloquently about finding intergenerational solutions to challenges faced by people of all ages:

"There is tremendous interest in intergenerational communities, in having older adults play a significant role in solving social problems related to vulnerable people. We recently had a group come to us who wanted to design a community for developmentally challenged adults. There are many other groups that might have need for these kinds of communities – whether it is young mothers with drug addictions or kids coming out of foster care with developmental delays."

"We’re very grateful that the concept has grown enough now that anybody can understand what we’re doing."

Read the rest here.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Register for the ICIP conference now!

Hello all! Early Bird Registration is now open for the 4th International Consortium for Intergenerational Programmes (ICIP) Conference, 26-29 April 2010: "Linking Generations - Family, Work, Community"! This year's conference is in Singapore; GU's Donna Butts will be one of the featured speakers.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Spending Ratios Don't Show The Whole Picture

Donna hopes to say more about David Brooks’ column today in the New York Times later (there’s a lot to like about it). I do want to respond briefly to his point about spending on children and seniors.

Brooks cites a recent study by Julia Isaacs of the Brookings Institution that lists the ratio of federal spending between seniors and children at 7:1. Various other columnists have picked up this headline-generating ratio. Notice, pundits rarely use the 2.4:1 ratio for all government spending – most government spending on children is at the local and state level – since it plays less into their selected narrative. However, no matter what ratio they cite, this comparison is deeply flawed.

The ratio of spending tells you almost nothing about the actual wellbeing of children and seniors, or how we support families. Programs are not easily divided into those that support children and those that support seniors. Children don’t live in an isolated bubble, they live in families. Robert Gordon, associate director at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently made this point at an Urban Institute event. It is unclear, he said, whether supports designed specifically for children help families any more than those designed to help families care for an aging parent. When creating public policy, it doesn’t make sense to separate children from families.

Further reading:

Henry Aaron wrote an excellent response to the Brookings paper, challenging the value of trying to separate spending by children and seniors.

Also, I want to point folks to the excellent post by Ezra Klein. Klein correctly argues that it’s the structure of Medicare that is actually driving spending, not some intrinsic selfishness on the part of seniors.

Monday, February 01, 2010

President's Budget Released

The President released his FY2011 budget today. Every year the President prepares a budget and sends it to Congress for consideration. Congress will work to pass a budget by October 1st 2010, though it often takes additional time to complete the budget process. Below are a few highlights of the budget changes the President announced for some key programs affecting children, families, and older adults.

Older Americans Act (OAA), National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), Lifespan Respite Care, and other supportive services
The budget proposes $103 million for the Administration on Aging Caregiver Initiative (further details found here):
• $52.5 million toward the National Family Caregiver Support Program to fund caregiver services and the Lifespan Respite program.
• $50 million increase in supportive services for senior services (under Title III-B), including transportation services and adult day care services.

Health Care
(further details found here):
• $2.5 billion for health centers to provide affordable high quality primary and preventive care to underserved populations, including the uninsured. This will allow health centers to continue to provide care to the 2 million additional patients they served under Recovery Act and support approximately 25 new health center sites. In 2008, health centers provided direct health care services to 17 million people.
• New Medicare demonstration projects that evaluate reforms to provide higher quality care at lower costs, improve beneficiary education and understanding of benefits offered, and better align provider payments with costs and outcomes.
• $25.5 billion for additional Federal Medicaid assistance to help states maintain their Medicaid programs and ensure access to health care for millions of Americans.

Corporation for National and Community Service
The budget proposes $1.416 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service - an increase of $266 million from 2010 (further details found here):
• $914 million for AmeriCorps programs
• $60 million for the Social Innovation Fund in order to test promising new approaches to major challenges
• $63 million for RSVP (no change from FY10)
• $111 million for the Foster Grandparent Program ($104,000 above FY10)
• $47 million for the Senior Companion Program ($96,000 above FY10)

Child Nutrition (further details found here):
• $7.6 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to fully serve all eligible individuals.
• $10 billion over 10 years for a strong Child Nutrition and WIC reauthorization.

Child Care, Head Start, and Early Head Start
• Will nearly double the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for middle-class families making under $85,000 a year by increasing their credit rate from 20 percent to 35 percent of child care expenses.
• Provides an additional $989 million for Head Start and Early Head Start to continue to serve 64,000 additional children and families funded in ARRA.
• Provides an addi­tional $1.6 billion for the Child Care and Devel­opment Block Grant (CCDBG) in preparation for reauthorization to expand child care opportunities, and improve health, safety, and outcomes for children.