CASA at Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School

 By Jennifer Archer, CASA Instructor, Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School

The Monseñor Oscar Romero Charter School (MORCS) family kicked off our work with CASA with a trip to the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition (GWHFC). Students in the Youth Advisory Board were discussing the lack of services for homeless people in Los Angeles, and wanted to see what they could do to help.

 

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Preventing Zika

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More than 500 cases of Zika have been reported in the United States already and the number is expected to rise significantly as we head into summer.

While emergency funds requested by President Obama for Zika prevention have been held up in Congressional bickering, Zika could very soon begin to have a real effect on Latino communities, which are disproportionately susceptible to the spread of Zika.

In the last few days, the White House and various members of Congress have been spreading awareness and resources to help you and your family become aware of the risk of Zika and how to prevent infection. You can also visit our website for more information and resources.
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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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This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending April 29

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Week Ending April 29

This week in immigration: Congressman Grijalva introduces resolution condemning 1996 immigration law; 177 organizations call on DOJ to provide counsel for children in immigration proceedings; op-ed describes how Texas benefits if DAPA is implemented.

CONGRESSMAN GRIJALVA INTRODUCES RESOLUTION CONDEMNING 1996 IMMIGRATION LAW: This week, Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-3) along with 30 Representatives introduced a congressional resolution calling for immigration policies that reduce automatic deportation and detention, restore due process for immigrants, and repeal unnecessary barriers to legal immigration. The “Fix96 Resolution” marks 20 years since the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act were signed into law in 1996, dramatically broadening and easing deportation and detainment requirements, removing legal defenses and involving local law enforcement. Vox writes an excellent description of the impact of the 1996 laws on today’s immigration system and its impact on families. 

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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).

Shining a Spotlight on Opportunities to Build a Healthier Generation of Children

by David Thomsen, Policy Analyst, Health Policy Project, NCLR

Today, 40% of Latino children (seven million) are overweight or obese compared to 28% of non-Hispanic White children. September marks National Childhood Obesity Month and an opportunity for us to focus attention on the issue, which is threatening the quality of life for a generation of American children. Through various policy and advocacy efforts, we are working to ensure that all kids have the chance to lead a healthy life, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much their family earns.

When it comes to Latino children, access to healthy food is especially critical, as 24% are at risk of going hungry. So it’s timely that federal nutrition programs are up for reauthorization this year: it provides Congress with an opportunity to maintain the gains these critical programs have made to improve the health and well-being of America’s children.

Increasing Healthy Food Access for Latino Children at School

In addition to the various nutrition programs up for review, there are components of the current law that can help alleviate hunger today.

One key example is Community Eligibility. Schools nationwide, in which 40% of students automatically qualify for free lunch, can provide free school breakfast and lunch to all of their students. This is critical for Latino children, as they account for nearly one-third of those eligible for free and reduced-price school meals who are currently not participating. There are several reasons for these gaps, including issues related to the application process, language access difficulties, and the stigma of receiving a free meal.

Through Community Eligibility, schools can address each of these barriers. Studies show that adoption of Community Eligibility increases participation in the National School Lunch Program by 13% and participation in the School Breakfast Program by 25%. By taking advantage of an existing opportunity, schools can choose to provide two free school meals each day to those children most at risk of going hungry.

Increasing Healthier Options and Shaping a Healthier School Environment

Schools are such critical environments for a child’s development and well-being, especially for children experiencing issues related to hunger. These children consume up to 40% more of their daily calories at school compared to other children. Unfortunately, schools with a majority of Latino children may not provide the same healthy, nutritious options as other schools.

The good news is that existing local school wellness policies can provide parents and guardians with a platform to advocate for more nutritious food options. Strong nutrition standards for all food and drinks served in school can help reduce risk of obesity and overweight among Latino children. However, in order for these policies to work, schools must communicate their own wellness policies in a way that is culturally and linguistically meaningful for everyone. By ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table, we can ensure that food and drinks served to Latino children have the same nutritional value as those served to other kids.

Using All of Our Tools

National Childhood Obesity Month provides an opportunity for all of us to look at ways we can reduce disparities in hunger and obesity and invest in the health of all of America’s children, including Latino children. At NCLR, we will continue to use the various tools at our disposal to ensure that this generation of children does not become the first not to outlive their parents.

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.

Stop the Madness! Let’s Really Invest in Children.

By Liany Arroyo, Associate Director, Education and Children’s Policy Project, NCLR

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As a mamí and an advocate, I have had a lot to smile about over the last two weeks. I am finally hearing politicians talk about the issues that matter most to me personally and professionally. While some would have thought it impossible for Republicans and Democrats to both agree that investments in the future of our children are necessary, it has finally happened. Granted, they may have different ideas on how to do it, but at least there is an acknowledgment that we have to invest in children.

The fact that both House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R–Va.) in remarks to the American Enterprise Institute and President Obama in his State of the Union address made it clear that children are, and should remain, a priority to our nation is something to be excited about. However, as parents, we now need to ensure that this is not simply talk. We have to hold our elected officials accountable for doing the hard work necessary for all of our nation’s children to thrive. That starts with ensuring that the arbitrary cuts scheduled for March 1 do not occur.

Those cuts, known as sequestration, will have a devastating impact on programs vital to the future of our children. Yesterday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified about the impact of these cuts on education. Education programs that serve our most vulnerable children would face severe cuts, with 1.2 million children losing access to additional educational supports through Title I and as many as 7,200 teachers and aides who work with disabled children at risk of losing their jobs. These are children who need assistance most, yet our elected officials are willing to leave them in the dark.

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