Federal Budget Proposal Includes Cuts for Programs Vital to Kids

During the week of February 10, 2020, the Trump Administration released its federal FY 2021 budget proposal, and the bottom-line impact to programs serving kids and families is stark. The silver lining, if any, is that the likelihood of the plan gaining any momentum in Congress is slim to none.

The proposed budget cuts Medicaid spending by at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years and makes further cuts to CHIP, undoubtedly impacting health care coverage for kids in Pennsylvania and across the country. While little detail is provided in the proposal, what is known is that states would be allowed to select between moving to either a Medicaid block grant program or a per capita cap option.

The budget advances a one-time increase of $1 billion for child care, but masks other elements including the flat-funding of Head Start and the Child Care Development Block Grant, as well as the elimination of Preschool Development Grants, which Pennsylvania received in 2019. While a $1 billion increase is eye-catching, it should also be noted that Congress passed a $2.4 billion increase for child care in 2018.

Read more about the Medicaid proposal from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.

Child Welfare System Improvement Efforts Underway in Pennsylvania

in late 2019, the Office of Advocacy and Reform was created in Pennsylvania with the intent of overhauling state systems and services and identifying strategies to better protect vulnerable individuals. In addition to convening a council of reform, the position of Child Advocate was created and has recently been filled by Nicole Yancy, J.D.  Ms. Yancy will be a liaison between the systems serving children and their families, triaging concerns and complaints, and making recommendations for system-wide improvements.

The Office of Children, Youth and Families, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and the Office and Advocacy and Reform, is conducting roundtables around the state to engage local child welfare agencies, county leaders, advocates and elected officials in brainstorming ways to improve the child welfare system.  The roundtables are an opportunity to openly discuss the struggles faced by child welfare agencies, and to develop recommendations on strength-based and solution-focused outcomes. Read more about the first roundtable held in York County.

Request for Information Regarding Maternal and Infant Health Care in Rural Communities 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) seek public comments regarding rural maternal health care. Specifically, the CMS Office of Minority Health is seeking information related to opportunities to improve health care access, quality, and outcomes for women and infants in rural communities, before, during, and after pregnancy. This includes the reduction of maternal health disparities across this timeframe between rural and urban communities, within rural communities, and racial and ethnic disparities within rural communities. This notice also seeks public comments regarding readiness of rural providers, including emergency medical services to handle obstetric emergencies (i.e., emergencies related to pregnancy, birth, and after birth) in rural areas.  Comments are due on April 12 and can be submitted here.

ERS:  Rural Poverty and Well-Being

The Economic Research Service (ERS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated their topic page on the factors that affect the poverty status of rural residents.  The ERS uses Census data to track poverty over time, analyze the severity and persistence of poverty over decades, and provide a rural/urban breakdown by race, family structure and age.  Read more here.

Pennsylvania Prison Suicides are at an All-time High. Families Blame “Reprehensible” Mental Health Care

NIOSH News Flash! COVID-19 Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and continues to spread in China. COVID-19 illnesses are being reported in a growing number of international locations. This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available on the CDC COVID-19 website.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released a webpage to highlight resources available for the protection of workers: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/emres/2019_ncov.html. This page provides a centralized resource for new guidance and recommendations produced during CDC’s COVID-19 response, as well as pre-existing resources and materials, to promote the safety and health of workers.