Congress’ Continued Failure to Act on CHIP Puts Our Children’s Health at Risk

CHIPMore than two months have passed since Congress failed to meet the September 30 deadline to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Last year, CHIP insured nearly nine million children, including a significant number of Latino children.

If Congress fails to act soon and reauthorize CHIP funding, millions of our nation’s children stand to lose their health coverage.

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Nominee for Assistant Secretary for the Office for Civil Rights Refuses to Protect Civil Rights

Whether Kenneth Marcus knows it or not, the position he would take on must enforce all civil rights protections and advocate for kids and families no matter their immigration status.

By Rebeca Shackleford, Education Policy Analyst, UnidosUS

Kenneth Marcus

Kenneth Marcus/YouTube

Next week, the Senate will vote to confirm the next assistant secretary for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. The high-level position focuses on protecting each child’s civil rights in our nation’s public schools.

But during his nomination hearing on Tuesday, nominee Kenneth Marcus wouldn’t commit to protecting undocumented children.

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Ensuring Our Kids Have a Healthy Summer

On Tuesday, June 7, NCLR joined another weekly #SaludTues Twitter chat to discuss children’s health and how parents can ensure their kids stay healthy over the summer. Because students are on summer vacation, they may lack access to regular nutritious meals and the routine that the school year provides. Luckily, there are many ways parents can keep their young ones healthy throughout the hot summer months.

Below are selected highlights from our chat:

Janet Murguía Testimony at ESSA Hearing: Full Remarks

JM_ESSAHearing

Today our President and CEO, Janet Murguía, testified before the before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions’ hearing, “ESSA Implementation: Perspectives from Education Stakeholders” to provide the civil rights perspective. Below are the remarks as prepared for delivery:

“NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, an American institution recognized in the book Forces for Good as one of the leading nonprofits in the nation. We represent over 250 Affiliates—local, community-based organizations in 41 states and the District of Columbia—that provide education, health, housing, workforce development, and other services to millions of Americans and immigrants annually. Many of these Affiliates operate as charter schools, provide early education, or offer after-school programming or family literacy services. Their experiences inform NCLR’s federal agenda.

“NCLR was proud to support the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act as a much needed update to our federal education law. Notably, for the first time, English language proficiency will be included in states’ accountability systems. However, passage was just the first step. It is critical that ESSA be implemented in a manner consistent with the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act to ensure its promise for all students.

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Mamas + Masa + Folic Acid = Healthier Babies

This Mother’s Day, we want to reflect on a recent announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow corn masa flour—the main ingredient of tortillas—to be fortified with folic acid. By fortifying a dietary staple among Latino families, corn masa manufacturers will help raise our community’s levels of this B vitamin that is essential in producing red blood cells and in making and repairing DNA. This is a major public health approach to reduce the rate of potential birth defects, such as spina bifida, among all children.

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#FoodFri Twitter Chat Highlights

On Friday, April 1, NCLR joined Mom’s Rising and Voices for Healthy Kids for a Twitter chat on the importance of providing healthy food for our children, as well as instilling healthy habits early in life. Nearly 1 million Twitter users were reached and over 400 took part in this vital discussion on the future of our children and community.

Check out the highlights below!

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Strong Child Nutrition Programs Are Critical for Latino Children and Families

Through the Child Nutrition and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act, Congress has the opportunity to invest in the health and well-being of millions of children and families, including Latinos. Reauthorization should maintain and strengthen the critical child nutrition programs authorized under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and ensure that low-income children have access to healthy meals and snacks at school, in after-school programs, and during the summer months. These programs are particularly important for Latino children and their opportunity and ability to lead healthy, productive lives.

Latino children face critical health disparities in their communities and are more likely to struggle with hunger and chronic health conditions like obesity than their peers. Low-income children, including 4.7 million Latino children living in food-insecure households, count on child nutrition programs to act as a buffer against hunger throughout the year.

The National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program hold particular importance for the Latino community. Seven million Latino children receive free and reduced-price school meals every day, accounting for one-third of all students participating in the program. Children living in households struggling with hunger consume 26% of their daily calories during school meals, compared to 16% for other children. It is critical that Latino children, especially those at risk of going hungry, have consistent access to healthy, nutritious food that might not be available at home.

It is not just at school where Latino children benefit from child nutrition programs. The Child and Adult Care Food Program provides nutritious meals and snacks for preschool-aged children in day care and school-aged children in after-school programs. Latino children have high participation rates in this program; 30% of four-year-olds in this program are Latino, compared to 20% of children younger than five overall. Studies show that low-income toddlers and preschool-aged children enrolled in the program are more likely to have a healthy weight for their age than their peers in child care with meals supplied from home.

For 70 years, federal child nutrition programs have played a vital role in ensuring that all children have the opportunity to grow up healthy. Increasing access to healthy, affordable food decreases hunger, improves academic success, and allows children to thrive. By reauthorizing these important programs, Congress has the opportunity to affirm its commitment to the health and well-being of America’s future.

For more information about the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act and its impact on Latino children and families, download our fact sheet.

With Gains in Health Coverage, Latino Children also Gain More Equitable Opportunities for Success

By Steven Lopez, Health Policy Project, NCLR and Sonya Scwhartz, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families

Our new report with Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families finds that the uninsured rate for Hispanic kids hit a historic low and the coverage gap between Hispanic kids and their peers narrowed considerably in 2014, the year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect. Credit for this success goes to the ACA, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and actions by states to help connect more Hispanic kids with coverage. historic_low_line  This is great news for Hispanic kids and for our nation as a whole. Hispanic children are a vital part of our nation’s future. They are the fastest-growing segment of the population—growing from one in four children today to one in three children by 2050—and will be our nation’s future doctors, teachers, and workers. A new body of research underscores the importance of affordable, high-quality health coverage during childhood. Having health coverage is linked to school success, better health throughout childhood, and improved financial security for families.

Despite these gains, about 1.7 million Hispanic children still go without health coverage and Hispanic children continue to be more likely to be uninsured than other children. And health coverage inequities for Hispanic children remain. An estimated 9.7% of Hispanic children were uninsured in 2014 compared to 6% of all children. These figures underscore the importance of closing this coverage gap.

eligibility_2_of_3The good news is that we can continue to make a dent in these numbers. Sixty-six percent of uninsured Hispanic children are estimated to be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP but unenrolled. Even though the vast majority (93 percent) of Hispanic children are U.S. citizens, they lag behind other American children when it comes to health insurance because their families face multiple barriers to enrollment. These barriers include language access challenges, worries about immigration-related consequences for their family members, and the complexity of eligibility rules.

In these last weeks of open enrollment for HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces, we families_face_barriershave a great opportunity to reach our community and encourage parents to enroll for coverage along with their children. And we can continue to encourage families to enroll their kids in Medicaid and CHIP all year long. Through these efforts, more Hispanic children will not only gain health coverage but a more equitable opportunity for success in school, work, and as participants in society at large.

success_in_new_yorkShare this information with any families you know who may be eligible for coverage. Remember: open enrollment for the marketplace ends on January 31, but Medicaid and CHIP are open for coverage all year! For more information, visit InsureKidsNow.gov or call (877) KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669).

Salud Tuesday Aims to Enroll Millions More Children into Affordable Health Care Programs

Connecting Latino Kids to Health Coverage (1)In the past few years, millions of eligible children have gained access to free or low-cost health care through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Unfortunately, more than three million eligible children are still not enrolled, including many Latino children.

NCLR  is delighted to join Salud Today and The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign in hosting a live Twitter chat  on Tuesday, September 15. From 1:00 to 2 p.m. EDT, users can tweet questions, ideas, and their own experiences surrounding this crisis facing our children.

We’ll discuss the importance of health coverage for children, the crucial information families need in order to receive insurance and care, health care issues impacting Latino families in the United States, and how you can help spread the word to families with eligible children.

Join us on Tuesday, September 15 to learn how you can help close the health care gap and make sure all eligible children—and parents, too—get the coverage and care they need. Be sure to use the hashtag #SaludTues to follow the conversation on Twitter and share your stories, ideas, and resources that can help connect our children with the care they so desperately need.