Domestic Weekly Update December 6, 2011
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Join us this Saturday, December 10 for the RESULTS National Conference Call. With the Super Committee’s work now behind us, we turn now to unfinished business. With the FY 2012 budget still not complete and only 10 more days to finish it, we will update you on the latest efforts to secure funding for Head Start and child care programs. Because our December Action focuses on generating media on protecting low-income children in these programs, we are pleased to have Margot Friedman as our guest speaker this month. Margot is a communications specialist who has worked for elected officials, celebrities, and non-profits. She specializes in getting op-eds published in the media. She brings a wealth of experience to this work and we are thrilled to have her share with us her insights and how best to communicate our message. You can read more about Margot on her website.
We will also review the December Action and start looking ahead to our 2012 campaigns. We look forward to you joining us for a great call.
TAKE ACTION: Coordinate and gather with your group this Saturday, December 10 at 12:30 pm ET for the national conference call. To join the call, dial (888) 409-6709. Once connected to the operator, ask for the RESULTS National Conference call. Plan to call in no later than 12:27 pm ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call.
Also, please bring your calendars to the call. We will be doing group planning in January and encourage you to schedule your January group planning meeting on Saturday.
Urge Congress to Fund Head Start and Child Care at Highest Possible Levels (December Action preview)
Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the year on December 16. That same date, the current continuing resolution funding the government expires. Despite these impending deadlines, there is still much work to get done over the next ten days. The majority of annual appropriations bills have yet to be completed. In particular, the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill, which funds Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), is still being negotiated. Without this funding, children and families enrolled in these programs will be forced to scramble for child care in 2012. Congress needs to finish its work and ensure that these working families are still able to access these important services.
Passing these appropriations should be a no-brainer. The science is clear that the first five years of life are absolutely critical for a child’s healthy brain development. Without regular nurturing and stimulating care and attention, a child’s brain does not grow as it should. This not only affects how the child does in school at an early age, this critical developmental stage can have negative impacts that last a lifetime. Children who participate in quality early childhood programs get the vital cognitive and social stimulation they need to grow up healthy.
Parents want what’s best for their children and those who can afford private preschool and child care services know firsthand the benefits these programs provide. What Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care assistance programs do is offer those same opportunities and benefits to at-risk children and their families. According to the Ounce of Prevention Fund, “children enrolled in Early Head Start performed better on measures of cognition, social-emotional, and language functioning than their peers who were not enrolled, according to this landmark study of the federal Early Head Start program. The study also found that children who participated in Early Head Start (from birth to age three) and later programs (from age 3 to 5) [like Head Start] had the most positive outcomes.”
Despite what we know about the individual and societal benefits of early learning, Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG have to fight every year to keep their funding. Remember that these programs still can only serve a fraction of the eligible children. Our children deserve better.
This month, we want to use the media to send a clear message to Congress — don’t shortchange our children! The media can play an important role in getting the attention of lawmakers, as well as educating the public, about the necessity of early childhood investments. Just last week, Mark Kennedy Shriver of Save the Children wrote a piece on Huffington Post about how investing in early childhood programs is smart economics and smart politics, not to mention the right thing to do. Let’s make sure this message gets through to Congress in these last few weeks of 2011.
TAKE ACTION: Take the December Action (the action sheet will be available later this week). Write a letter to the editor or op-ed to your local paper urging lawmakers to support working families by supporting the highest funding levels for Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG. Those levels should be no less than what the Senate has proposed already ($340 million increase for Head Start/Early Head Start, maintain existing funding for CCDBG). Be sure to mention your members of Congress by name in your letters and fax/e-mail your printed letters to their offices.
You can also tell your representatives and senators to urge House and Senate negotiators to fund Head Start and child care at no less than the Senate proposed levels by using our online e-mail action.
Now is a great time to put in those requests to meet with members of Congress when they are back home over the holiday break and early 2012. Members will be heading back home on December 16 (assuming they finish the budget) and will not return to Washington until January 17 (House) and January 23 (Senate). As we head into 2012, this is a great opportunity to once again put ending poverty front and center on the agenda early in the year. Here are some issues your groups can plan to discuss in these meetings.
The wealth gap and inequality are likely to be a hot campaign issue next year. Our recent work on the wealth gap gives us a great opportunity to push the issue of economic opportunity with our representatives and senators. The Bush tax cuts will be expiring at the end of 2012, as well as recent improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). 2012 is also an election year. These factors, along with the recent shift in focus on inequality because of the “Occupy” movement, could make members of Congress more willing to address issues of economic fairness in 2012. Urging them to support policies that address the wealth gap and promote asset development among low-income households is a strong message for us to deliver. See our November Action for talking points you can use on this issue during your upcoming meetings.
Early Childhood Development
While we hope the 2012 budget will be completed before Congress goes on recess, this does not mean that funding for Head Start and child care programs is moot. The discretionary budget cuts mandated in the Budget Control Act, as well as the next round of cuts coming in 2013 as a result of “sequestration,” continue to put these programs at risk. It is never too early to remind members of Congress that we need to protect low-income children and families by making sure they can continue to access these important services.
Protect Anti-Poverty Programs in Deficit Reduction
Although it is not known at this point whether Congress will try to come up with another deficit reduction plan in 2012, they are likely to be efforts to change the cuts that will begin in 2013 via “sequestration.” Already some senators and representatives are pushing to undo the cuts to defense that are mandated by sequestration. If successful and no new revenue is added to offset any changes, Congress will be looking to cut non-defense programs even deeper. They may even seek to undo some of the protections for anti-poverty programs such as Medicaid, Social Security, and SNAP that are currently in the sequestration rules. We must send a clear message that as Congress looks to find more savings in the budget, we must maintain our commitment to protect vulnerable Americans and not increase poverty. You can read our October Action for general talking points on this issue (ignore references to the Super Committee).
TAKE ACTION: Take advantage of this opportunity by requesting a face-to-face meeting with your representatives and senators to talk about our priorities. Get in early to meet with members of Congress to push them early on these important issues. Use our online e-mail to contact their offices about setting up a meeting. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you prepare. We are here to help.
This is an important week for grassroots fundraising as we have now completed our final fundraising events of 2011. Thank you to the Kitsap/Bremerton group in Washington State and Anchorage, AK for wrapping us up in style. Our Kitsap partners hosted a Mexican buffet lunch where Dr. Ernest Loevinsohn, Director of Global Health Policy and Advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and former RESULTS Board Chair, spoke about the value of inexpensive vaccinations and medications in saving millions of lives and the role that RESULTS plays in making them available worldwide. With 191 participants, they have raised $24,000 so far. Congratulations and thanks also to our Anchorage, AK group who hosted an intimate house party fundraiser to share their passion for tuberculosis issues with their friends and invite them to contribute to ending TB with us.
We are also gearing up for next year. If you are a runner or have a January birthday, our fundraising team would love for you to take our new online fundraising tool for a spin in January! Also, if you’d like to run a 5K or are willing to celebrate your age to inspire your friends to contribute to RESULTS and REF, contact please contact RESULTS Grassroots Development Associate Cindy Levin to find out more.
Turning now to outreach, we will hold our final RESULTS Introductory Call of 2011 next Monday, December 12 at 9:00 pm ET. These 30 minutes “meet and greet” calls are a perfect introduction to RESULTS for people unfamiliar with our work. People who have attended these calls are enthusiastic about RESULTS and getting involved with our work, so please use this easy recruiting tool with people you know. Take a few minutes this week to invite a friend or family member to register for Monday’s call (or sign up yourself). Simply send this link http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet and urge them to sign up. Contact Lisa Marchal ([email protected]) if you have questions about the call.
We thank all of our RESULTS volunteers, donors, new partners, and allies for another successful year in grassroots fundraising and outreach. We appreciate your support and inspired by your relentless commitment to seeing a world free of poverty. We could not do it without you!
School Lunch Program Sees Spike in Enrollment. The New York Times reported last week that the national school lunch program has seen 17 percent increase in enrollment since 2006-07. In 2010, 21 million school children received subsidized school lunches in the U.S. More than half of all fourth graders in the U.S. (52 percent) are now receiving free or reduced-price lunches. The economy is the primary catalyst for this spike in participation. The severity of economic downturn has prompted some school districts to start serving a third meal before children leave in the afternoon out of fear they will not get an evening meal at home.
Join NWLC Webinar on Funding for Early Childhood Programs. Our friends at the National Women’s Law Center will be hosting a webinar on December 15 to review the latest of funding and reauthorization prospects. The call will look at the current FY 2012 appropriations negotiations, the upcoming release of the president’s FY 2013 budget, how automatic cuts in 2013 will impact early childhood programs, and other issues. Join NWLC for this informative webinar to help us finish out 2012 and get ready for next year. The webinar is Thursday, December 15 at 2:00 pm ET. You can register for it on the NWLC website.
RESULTS lost a great friend and advocate last week when long-time RESULTS Salina (KS) volunteer and former group leader Ted Mintun passed away on November 27. He was 90. Ted, a former social worker, has been a passionate advocate for disadvantaged populations for decades. Over the years, he volunteered his time to various causes in the Salina area, receiving numerous awards for his amazing work. As a RESULTS advocate, Ted was a dedicated advocate for low-income Americans, being in regular contact with Kansas members of Congress on our issues. He was also a savvy media advocate, frequently getting media pieces published in the Salina Journal. We will miss Ted and thank him for his generosity of time and service to ending poverty. We also offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends for their loss. To read more about Ted and his wonderful life, please see this piece from the Salina Journal. You can also read our RESULTS Blog post remembering Ted.
(See a complete calendar)
Saturday, December 10: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. (888) 409-6709. Listen to previous conference calls online.
Monday, December 12: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.
Thursday, December 15: NWLC Early Childhood Update webinar, 2:00 pm ET. Register at the NWLC website.
Friday, December 16: Current continuing resolution (CR) expires; Congress must pass the FY 2012 budget (or another CR) by this date or face a government shutdown. Target date for congressional holiday recess.
Friday, December 23 (1:00 pm ET) – Monday, January, 2, 2012: All RESULTS office closed for holiday break (offices reopen on Tuesday, January 3).
Saturday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 24, 2012: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC.
Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 783-2818, 1730 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.
RESULTS Domestic Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:
The RESULTS Domestic Update is sent out every Tuesday over e-mail to RESULTS volunteers and allies all over the country. The purpose of these updates is to inform and activate RESULTS activists to take action on our domestic campaigns.