Domestic Weekly Update May 10, 2011

[The YWCA child care program] is vitally important because we have working families that we service who need a safe place for their children to be while they’re at work. And we also teach the children how to become literate and productive at an early age... Those years from zero to four are critical ages for any child.

Coretta Graham, volunteer at a federally-funded child care program in Corpus Christi, Texas

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates

Join May National Conference Call THIS Saturday

This Saturday is the May RESULTS National Conference Call. On this call, we will discuss the May Action — scheduling a site visit to your local Head Start center. Our guest speaker(s) will offer their real-life expertise as parents about the program and our training this month will focus on setting up your site visit. We will also update you on the latest on the budget and key actions we want to focus on. We look forward to talking to you on Saturday.

TAKE ACTION: Coordinate with your group where you will listen to the RESULTS Domestic national conference call this Saturday, May 14 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 p.m. ET to give time to the operator to connect you with the call.

Set Up Your Site Visit to Your Local Head Start Center (May Action)

In May, we are strengthening the case for Head Start, Early Head Start , and Child Care Development Block Grant by visiting local Head Start centers. The information we gather can then be used to urge Congress to protect these critical programs. By meeting with staff and parents centers, we get firsthand knowledge of what these programs mean to our communities.

A recent poll from First Focus shows that Americans overwhelmingly oppose cuts to education as a means to reduce the budget deficit. 87 percent of respondents want little or no cuts to K–12 education as a means to reduce the deficit; only 10 percent supported major cuts. Furthermore, 85 percent want little or no cuts to Head Start specifically, with only 14 percent favoring major cuts. It is clear that Americans supporting educating children and they firmly believe in Head Start. Our task is to take that message to Capitol Hill in the most effective ways we can.

Doing site visits are where we connect with people, and people are what make the difference. When members of Congress can see and hear about the people in their districts who rely on Head Start, they will be more inclined to protect it. People like the parents who feel empowered to make a difference in their child’s life. People like the student who is able to fully interact and read with her kindergarten teacher because of her time in Head Start. People like the teacher who sacrifices time and better pay to help at-risk children build better life — these are the stories Congress needs to hear. These are the stories that remind them that their actions have consequences on real people. Your site visits this month will help you make that case.

TAKE ACTION: Take the May Action. Contact your local Head Start center to request a visit by your local RESULTS group. If you do not know where your closest center is, go to http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/HeadStartOffices and you can search for centers near you. Once you have the contact information, call the center and explain that you would like to talk to someone about doing a site visit to the center. The May Action sheet has all the information you’ll need to help you schedule and carry out your visit. NOTE: Please call and schedule an appointment before visiting your local Head Start center. Drop-in visits can be disruptive to the children and staff.

When scheduling your visit, be sure to ask if it would be possible to visit with some of the parents in the program (many times, Head Start employees are current or former parents of Head Start students). These parents can provide you invaluable stories about how the program has impacted them and their children. See examples of these kinds of stories at http://www.halfinten.org/grassroots/stories, including some stories recorded by Emerson National Hunger Fellow Rebecca Van Maren at the recent National Head Start Association conference.

Register for the RESULTS International Conference — New Speakers Added!

If you have not registered yet for the 2011 RESULTS International Conference (June 19–21), do so today. Each week, new and exciting events are being added to the conference agenda. We are pleased to announce two new speakers for the conference. First, former Ambassador and member of Congress Mark Green (R-WI-8) will join us on Sunday. He is currently Senior Director at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Also, Almeta R. Keys, Executive Director of the Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center in DC and former Head Start parent, will be a guest speaker at the conference. They will join Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, to share their expertise in the areas of global and/or domestic poverty with inspiring messages for us in our work. Please plan to join us for this exciting event.

TAKE ACTION: Register for the conference TODAY! There are only 40 days left before the conference starts. Go to our International Conference page for more information and the latest version of the conference agenda. In addition, here are some other actions to help prepare you for a great conference experience:

  1. Schedule Your Lobby Meetings and Input Them into our Tracking Form. Contact your House and Senate offices to set up face-to-face meetings for Lobby Day, June 21. See our Activist Milestone: Meeting Face-to-Face with Members of Congress for tips on scheduling meetings. Once your meetings are scheduled, go to http://tinyurl.com/2011ICLobbyMeetings to input the meeting details. This helps us keep track of all the meetings going on at the conference. If you have to make an adjustment along the way (time of the meeting gets changed, etc.), just fill out a new form and staff can the old entries. You see already reported meetings at http://tinyurl.com/2011ICLobbyMeetingsSpreadsheet.

  2. Invite Members of Congress and Staff to our Lobby Day Reception. Contact your congressional offices are invite your representatives and senators to our Capitol Hill Lobby Day reception on Tuesday, June 21 at 5:45 pm. See our International Conference page for a letter you can customize and send as an invitation.

  3. Donate to the Karen McQuillan Memorial Fund. Whether or not you can come to the conference, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Karen McQuillan Memorial Fund to help others attend. You can make your donation online (write “Karen McQuillan Fund” in the “Other comments” box at the bottom of the donation form) or make a check payable to, and mail to, RESULTS Educational Fund, 750 First St. NE, Ste 1040, Washington, DC 20002, Attn: Cynthia Stancil.

Thank you all and we look forward to seeing you next month in Washington DC!

Building Political Will for a Responsible and Compassionate Budget — Quick and Powerful Actions You Can Take

As you well know, the fight around the FY 2012 federal budget is just getting started but things are starting to move quickly. Many groups and advocates are pushing members of Congress, particularly those in the Senate, to reject the House budget plan passed on April 15. It seems that this pushback is working... for now. Many House members who voted for the House budget heard from constituents during the recent recess who were very angry at its proposed changes to programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The pushback has been so strong that House Republicans have all but admitted that their plan to privatize Medicare is going nowhere this year.

However, this in no way means that we have succeeded in our efforts. While the Senate will likely reject the House plan, portions of that plan could still see the light of day, including efforts to block grant and cut Medicaid and SNAP (formerly Food Stamps). In addition, efforts to impose a spending cap on the budget are very much alive. A group of senators known as the “Gang of Six” have been working for months to come up with a long-term deficit reduction agreement. Their proposal could come as soon as next week. The vote on the debt ceiling (raising the limit on the amount of money the U.S. government can borrow) will also be soon (before August 2) and will likely contain some kind of deficit reduction agreement. House Speaker Boehner yesterday outlined his demands for deep cuts in spending in order to consider debt limit legislation. Remember, spending caps are a Trojan Horse designed to, as one advocate put it, “enact the House budget without the political pain.” Deficit reduction is an important issue but we need for Congress to solve the underlying problems that are causing these deficits (unemployment, rising health care costs, an astronomical military budget including two wars, and unsustainable tax cuts). Using a budgetary sleight of hand to shift the costs of these problems off the government and onto the people is not a solution.

 

Action 1: Contact Members of Congress about Head Start and child care. If you have not already, please take the April Action. Tell members of Congress to weigh in with Appropriations Committee members, urging them to protect children in Head Start, Early Head Start , and Child Care Development Block Grant by allocating the necessary funding to maintain current services. Ask your representative to send a letter detailing this to Labor-HHS Chairman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3). Senators should write to Labor-HHS Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL). You can also use our online e-mail action to send your request; be sure to personalize the message (including the subject line) to make it more effective. Urge them to act now as the deadline for input for some subcommittees is this Friday.

Action 2: Sign the SAVE for All Principles. If you have not already, please sign your local RESULTS group onto the SAVE for All Statement of Principles. Advocates in Washington have been doing visits on Capital Hill pushing the principles and they are making a difference. And the more signers we have, the bigger the difference we can make. Go to the SAVE for All page to read the principles and to sign your group onto them.

Action 3: Sign the SNAP Support Letter. In the House FY 2012 budget proposal, one of the primary targets for big cuts is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). The House proposal would cut the program by twenty percent over the next ten years, devastating low-income families and leaving millions without enough food to eat. Show your support for SNAP by signing your local RESULTS group onto this letter from the National Anti-Hunger Organizations. We want a strong showing of support from national, state and local groups for protecting SNAP against these reckless budget cuts. We especially need folks from Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, Indiana, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Alaska, and North Dakota.

Action 4: Educate Yourself about the Broader Budget Battle. On April 27 RESULTS hosted a special webinar on “How Efforts to ‘Reduce the Deficit’ Could Mean More Families in Poverty Struggle to Make Ends Meet” with Debbie Weinstein from the Coalition on Human Needs. We urge you to review the Budget Debate PowerPoint if you haven’t already. In addition, the National Priorities Project (NPP), a great resource on the federal budget, is hosting a webinar to educate the grassroots about the federal debt ceiling. The upcoming debt ceiling vote will likely include some kind deficit reduction provision; such provisions could impact everything we hold dear from health care for low-income children (CHIP) to health coverage for families (Medicaid) to low-income tax credits (EITC and CTC). Therefore, it is good for us to understand what the debt ceiling actually is and why this vote matters. Their “Hitting the Debt Ceiling” webinar will be given today at 3:00 pm ET, tomorrow at 1:00 pm ET and again May 19 at 11:00 am ET. You register for the webinar of your choice at the NPP website.

You can also educate yourself by reviewing the Budget Debate PowerPoint designed by RESULTS that was part of the Budget Debate webinar a few weeks ago.

Quick News

Don’t Forget the “To Catch a Dollar” Resources. Please keep up your excellent efforts around the “To Catch a Dollar” campaign by following up with contacts you made at the screening in March. Also, please don’t forget about the training webinars RESULTS hosted at the end of April; they are great for brushing up on the budget and honing your advocacy skills. They are also great resources for new folks to RESULTS. Visit our ”To Catch a Dollar” Resources page for follow-up and webinar resources.

Updated Actions Online. Want to help promote low-income savings programs? Help protect early childhood programs? Set up a face-to-face meeting with your members of Congress back home? All of these are more actions are just a few clicks away. Check out these updated actions and others on our U.S. Poverty Actions and New Page.

Announcements

Invite New Volunteers to the New Activist Orientation Call Tomorrow. Please invite new activists to participate in our spring New Activist Orientation series, which continues tomorrow night at 9:00 pm ET. This series is a great orientation to RESULTS and our work that will help new additions to your group get up to speed quickly and effectively. The remaining calls are on May 11 and 25 at 9:00 pm ET. To participate, call (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the series or get more information by contacting Lisa Marchal. And remember if you missed the April 13 or April 27 calls, you can still join the series.

RESULTS Faith in Action Update. Check out our What’s New in Faith in Action page for news and resources on our faith outreach efforts. Also, if you are attending the RESULTS International Conference, please plan to attend the Faith in Action Brown Bag Breakfast on June 20.

Today is the birthday of RESULTS Director of Domestic Campaigns Meredith Dodson and Stella Linn, daughter of RESULTS Grassroots Organizer Jos Linn. One of them is turning 6 and spending the day at the Magic Kingdom to celebrate – we’ll let you guess which one. Happy Birthday, Stella and Meredith!

Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

Friday, May 13: Deadline for House and Senate members to send letters asking for specific program funding to House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees (not all subcommittees have this deadline).

Saturday, May 14: RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. (888) 409-6709.

Monday, May 16 – Sunday, May 22: House of Representatives is on recess.

Monday, May 30 – Sunday, June 5: Senate is on recess.

Monday, June 6 – Sunday, June 12: House of Representatives is on recess.

Sunday, June 19 – Tuesday, June 21: RESULTS International Conference at the Four Points Sheraton in Washington, DC.

RESULTS Contact Information

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:

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.