Domestic Weekly Update February 1, 2011
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Tell Legislators to Protect Low-Income Children and Families from Early Childhood Funding Cuts (February Action) and Sign Up for Half in Ten Webinar
Last week’s State of the Union address by President Obama marks the beginning of the political calendar in Washington for 2011. His address, while touching on many important issues, was also noteworthy of what it did not say. The president did not mention the plight of the poor in America as part of his speech, except by implication in once sentence about not cutting the budget so that it hurts vulnerable citizens. By contrast, he did specifically single out Community Action programs as a target for cuts in his own budget. Community Action agencies provide direct support to low-income individuals and families in need around the country. Many of these agencies oversee local Head Start, Early Head Start and child care assistance programs.
It is a disappointing that the priorities in Washington have become so askew that the 43.6 million people living in poverty warranted only scant attention from the president last week. Fortunately, that is not the end of the story.
In February, RESULTS will continue our efforts to support vulnerable children and families. We want to make sure our members of Congress know how important early childhood programs are to not only low-income families, but to America’s future. A child currently enrolled in Head Start or child care program could be the next Leonardo da Vinci, Amelia Earhart, or Marie Curie; the next Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, or Madeline Albright. But if these at-risk children don’t get the foundation on which to build their dreams, we may never know. Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care programs provide vulnerable children that base, while also helping their families foster their growth and potential long after leaving the program.
To help ensure that these children are not forgotten, write to your members of Congress this month and tell them to support funding levels that continue to provide millions of American children a chance at success right from the start. What we seek is not unreasonable — we simply want to save what we have. Don’t cut 300,000 children from these critical programs. Tell Congress to protect existing services by sustaining the necessary Head Start and child care funding levels that go to states and communities who serve these children.
In preparation for taking action, we also encourage you to sign up for the Half in Ten webinar tomorrow Wednesday, February 2, 3:00–4:00 pm ET (RESULTS is a cosponsor). Half in Ten is an initiative to cut U.S poverty in half in ten years. The webinar is designed to educate grassroots activists on the looming policy battles affecting low-income families in the 112th Congress. Speakers will include Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Al Franken (D-MN), among others. The information in the webinar can help you better take the February action. Go to the Half in Ten registration page to sign up.
TAKE ACTION: Take the Febuary Action. Write letters to your members of Congress in support of Head Start, Early Head Start and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Urge them to sustain the funding levels in FY 2011 and FY 2012 necessary to protect existing services for children and families. The action sheet has talking points and background information that can help in your letters. Also, if you have your own stories and experiences to share, please do. Perhaps you were a Head Start student or you a teacher; perhaps you run a child care program or know someone who relies on CCDBG funds to help pay for child care. Sharing these stories can make a difference, so please use them in your letters. And don’t forget to sign up for the Half in Ten webinar tomorrow 3 pm ET at https://secure.confertel.net/tsregister.asp?course=532202.
Finally, if you have not signed onto the National Women’s Law Center’s sign on letter to Congress about early childhood funding, go to http://action.nwlc.org/site/Survey?SURVEY_ID=11500&ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS&autologin=true to sign your local RESULTS group onto the letter. The deadline to sign on is TODAY. On the form, for Organization, please list your group name, e.g. “RESULTS Buffalo” or “RESULTS Santa Fe”.
Keep Trying for Face-to-Face Meetings During Upcoming Recesses (January Action)
In addition to writing letters this month, don’t give up on trying to get those coveted face-to-face meetings set up for the next congressional recess. The House is on recess this week and both the House and Senate will be on recess the week of February 21 (see our website calendar for House and Senate recess times over the next six months). These will be very good times to schedule face-to-face meetings when members of Congress are back home. In fact, some of you already have. Here are some of the face-to-face meetings RESULTS Domestic volunteers have had or will have so far this year:
Congratulations to these groups for meeting with these legislators and urging them to support our priorities. Join them in setting up meetings or attending events where members of Congress will be. There is no better time than right now to be talking to them about how to they can help remove the “at-risk” moniker from “at-risk children” through early childhood development programs, as well as other long-term solutions to poverty through building savings and assets.
TAKE ACTION: Take the January Action. Set up face-to-face meetings with returning and new members of Congress in your home state. Contact the office scheduler to set up a time to meet when they are back home. Use the January 2011 Laser Talk to help you. In your meetings, highlight our 2011 priorities as outlined in our 2011 Campaigns Summary. On early childhood issues, you can also use CLASP’s new web resource on which includes custom fact sheets with state-by-state data on Head Start and child care programs. Once you have a meeting or conference call scheduled, please contact Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) or Jos Linn ([email protected]) to help you prepare.
Have you scheduled or completed your 2011 group planning? It may sound like a broken record but think about it. What do you do when you hear a broken record? You fix it. So like that annoying skip in your copy of Trini Lopez’s “Lemon Tree”, this broken record of weekly reminders will continue until we get all of the group plans in.
In all seriousness, we are poking a little fun here but that by no means diminishes the importance of group planning. Going through this process will not only help you celebrate your past successes and plan for new ones, it is also a great group bonding experience. For example, the RESULTS Des Moines group got together on January 18 over pizza, pop, and brownies and banged out a group plan in less than 90 minutes. They had a lot of fun while setting some ambitious goalsuntil for 2011. You can do it too.
What legislative goals do you want to accomplish this year? How will you create a champion of your members of Congress? How do you want to interact with your local media? In what ways will you get others involved in RESULTS work this year? What kind of actions will you take to support our annual fundraising efforts? Group planning will help you answer these (and other) questions. Taking time to do this now will pay off greatly later on.
TAKE ACTION: Please complete your group planning as soon as possible. Use our group planning resources (planning sheets, plan summary, sample agenda, etc) found on our Group Resource and Administration page and our 2011 Campaigns Summary to help. Once you have completed your planning, fill out the group plan summary form and send a copy to your regional coordinator as soon as possible. If you have questions about group planning, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff for help.
Thanks to all of you who contacted your tax aides about the NCTC Tax Credit briefing last Friday in Washington, DC. In addition to congressional staff, RESULTS staff also attended and said it was very impressive. As we head into tax season, briefings like this are great ways to educate congressional offices on the importance of asset building and income incentives.
As mentioned last week, there is another briefing tomorrow, that directly links to our work on building savings and assets for low-income individuals and families. On February 2, the Congressional Savings and Ownership Caucus is holding a briefing on the importance of saving via U.S. Savings Bonds. Savings bonds provide a safe and simple way for Americans to build their families’ financial security. To help this effort, Doorway to Dreams (D2D) and Savings Bond Working Group and the New America Foundation are launching the Tax Time Savings Bond Campaign to encouraging taxpayers to put all or part of their tax refunds into a U.S. Savings Bond, which everyone can now do on their tax returns. Speakers will include representatives from the IRS, Intuit (makers of TurboTax), D2D and New America. Congressional sponsors include Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN-5), Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI-6), Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA-16) and Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA-5), as well as Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA-2).
TAKE ACTION: Urge House and Senate aides to attend the Savings Bond briefing on Wednesday, February 2, 10:00–11:00 am ET, Room 122 of the Cannon House Office Building. To RSVP, have them contact Ali Diallo at (301) 656-0348 or [email protected] To find the tax aide for your members of Congress, go to our Elected Officials page on the RESULTS website.
For more information about our work on low-income asset building, see our newly updates building savings and assets pages on the RESULTS website (note that the title of each proposal on the page is a link to more detailed information).
In addition to keeping you up-to-date on the latest legislative developments on our 2011 U.S. Poverty campaigns, RESULTS staff are busy strengthening and growing our grassroots network. Here are some highlights of upcoming events:
If you are looking to grow your group or help start a new RESULTS Domestic group, please contact Jos or Meredith for help. We are happy to work with you on strengthening and expanding our grassroots presence around the country.
Register for Conference Call about Health Reform and Medicaid. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) is hosting a call on February 10 on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. The call will include a review of the key Medicaid provisions of health reform, what the eligibility expansion will look like, the early implementing option for states, what the maintenance of effort provision means, and the kinds of fiscal challenges states are facing in this economy. Although not a major campaign for RESULTS in 2011, we are monitoring developments on the health reform front and efforts to undermine its key improvements. In light of a Florida judge ruling the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional yesterday, this call is very timely. Please join if you can. The call is Thursday, February 10 at 1:00 pm ET. To register, go to NWLC Reform Matters registration page.
(Click to see a complete calendar)
Thursday, January 27 – Monday, February 7: House is on recess.
Wednesdays, February 2 and 16, March 2 and 16: New Activist Orientation, 4-session series. 9 pm ET. Call (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. To RSVP or to get more information, contact Lisa Marchal ([email protected]).
Saturday, February 12: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET.
Week of February 14: President Obama releases FY 2012 budget plan.
Monday, February 21: President’s Day holiday. All RESULTS offices closed.
Monday, February 21 – Friday, February 25: House and Senate President’s Day recess.
Friday, March 4: Expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR) for FY 2011 spending.
Sunday, June 19 – Tuesday, June 21: RESULTS International Conference at the Four Points Sheraton in Washington, DC.
Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 783-2818, 750 First Street NE, Suite 1040, Washington DC 20002. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.
Domestic Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff: Meredith Dodson, (202) 783-7100 x116 ([email protected]); Jos Linn, (515) 288-3622 ([email protected]), and Ann Beltran ([email protected]). Grassroots Development Associate, Cindy Changyit Levin, (773) 236-7758 ([email protected]).
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.