Domestic Weekly Update May 31, 2011

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

New and Urgent in This Week’s Update

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Building Champions — Senate Recess Gives Us a Chance to Create Leaders for Head Start and Child Care

Use this week to protect Head Start, Early Head Start , and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) from reckless budget cuts by meeting with senators back home. The Senate is on recess this week and many senators will be available for meeting and town hall appearances. These are perfect opportunities to get these issues in front of them. The recess also gives you the chance to thank those senators voted against the House FY 2012 budget proposal. Last week, the Senate voted the proposal down, 57-40. All Democrats and 5 Republicans voted against it. Thank you to all of you who called your senators urging them to vote no. The Senate also rejected the budget proposal from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), which would have enacted even deeper cuts to Medicaid than the House budget, as well as President Obama’s FY 2012 budget proposal.

With no agreement on a budget between the House and Senate, all eyes now turn to the issue of the debt ceiling vote. A vote on the debt ceiling must be made before August 2. Because the final deal on that vote will likely include some kind of deficit reduction plan, it is widely assumed (at this point) that the debt ceiling vote will form the framework for the FY 2012 budget. Therefore, these next six weeks could be critical.

These debates are not just about funding levels for programs we support; they are about creating the America we want to see. While our tactics may focus on the dollars and cents, our goals are about new priorities. Budgets are moral documents, and legislators cannot say they care about a program and then turn a blind eye when its funding gets cut. Change requires courage and courage requires leadership. Let’s be the leaders we want to see by showing members of Congress what it means to stand up for what’s right.

TAKE ACTION: Meet with members of Congress back home by setting up face-to-face meetings or attending a local town hall event and asking a question. Urge House and Senate members to tell the House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittees to allocate $1.2 billion in new funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and a total allotment of $8.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start in FY 2012. Use the April Action sheet and April 2011 U.S. Poverty Laser Talk for talking points and background. If you cannot get a meeting, fax a letter or use our online e-mail action to send a personal note to Congress about early learning funding.

If your senator voted against the House budget, please be sure to thank him/her. If you representative signed onto the Miller-Kildee early childhood letter, please thank him/her as well.

In addition, if you have time in your meetings or at a public event to discuss larger budget issues, urge senators to reject efforts to cut low-income programs to balance the budget, as well as arbitrary spending caps that would force the same cuts. See our abbreviated June Action for talking points on this issue. We’ll have more about the June Action next week.


Head Start Visits Are Creating Powerful Stories for RESULTS Volunteers — Schedule Yours Today (May Action)

We continue to hear great stories from RESULTS volunteers visiting Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care Development Block Grant centers this month. As the RESULTS International Conference Lobby Day approaches and the congressional appropriations process continues, these stories will make for powerful meetings with legislators and their staff.

With the stimulus money last year for professional development, [the center] helped 7 of the para-professionals start college classes in early childhood development. The class we saw had about 20 children, working at various “centers” of activity. The room had a cage with live chicks (hatched there) and a cage with a bunny in it. Several of the little girls wore head scarves which fell from their front hairline down over their shoulders and backs. So cute! We learned there are other early childhood education classes [in the area], but they are just classes, and lack the comprehensive programs of health screening, nutrition and parental involvement [Head Start offers]. The health screenings can reveal problems at an early stage and provide an advocate for treatment or intervention.

— Marty Karnopp, RESULTS Denver

Some groups have also visited other centers in their area that receive funding from CCDBG. Here is a story from volunteers in the Miami area.

Jack and Jill is not a Head Start center, they are an independent organization that has been serving early children development needs since the early 1940s. They have 172 kids and do get a little of the CCDBG funding. They gave us a tour of their facility, introducing us to the staff and children. Then we met for about 30–40 minutes and discussed what is going on in the community, how they turn away 3–5 families per week. We also discussed the importance of early child hood development and the amazing return on investment the community receives from it. We discussed how there is an overwhelming need for it, how it needs to be funded and improved.

— Jeffrey York, RESULTS Broward County (FL)

Finally, volunteers in Iowa recently visited a local Head Start center at a local church and were very impressed by a young mother with children in the program.

We met with the mom of a Head Start student and an Early Head Start student at the center. She was so proud of her children being in the program and so grateful for the staff and resources at the center. She talked about how her sons love Head Start and want to go every day. She is amazed at how much her sons have learned since starting the program. She also said that Head Start has helped her to foster at home the social skills her kids need to succeed in life. She hopes her sons grow up to become doctors or engineers.

— Jos Linn, RESULTS Des Moines

TAKE ACTION: Find your own story. Take the May Action by contact your local Head Start or child care 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. 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). See more about these kinds of stories at http://www.halfinten.org/grassroots/stories and the RESULTS Blog post. You can hear an inspiring story about Head Start on our May 14 RESULTS national conference call, which you can listen to on the RESULTS website.


RESULTS International Conference: Set Up Your Lobby Prep Calls Before You Come to Washington

If you are attending the RESULTS International Conference next month, let’s make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running when you get to Washington, DC. Last year, RESULTS Domestic staff scheduled calls with volunteers in advance of the conference to help prepare them for Lobby Day at the conference. While everyone will get plenty of training at the conference itself, these calls allowed staff and volunteers to craft lobby and messaging strategies for individual legislators. This helped to make the conference and lobbying experience much more powerful, effective, and fun. Because of the success of that effort, we are doing it again this year. Staff has already spoken with volunteers in Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Virginia in preparation for this year’s conference. If you have not done so yet, please contact Meredith Dodson or Jos Linn to set up your pre-conference lobby prep call.

Also, be sure to schedule your lobby meetings for the conference as soon as possible. Contact the schedulers in your House and Senate offices to set up your face-to-face meetings on Lobby Day, June 21. Don’t wait until the last minute. And be sure to communicate with other volunteers from your group or state who are attending the conference to coordinate your efforts. Once you have your meetings scheduled, go to http://tinyurl.com/2011ICLobbyMeetings to input the meeting details so we can track all the meetings during the conference.

Be sure to invite Members of Congress and staff to our Capitol Hill Lobby Day reception on Tuesday evening, June 21. This is a great opportunity for your members of Congress to interact and speak with RESULTS activists about the importance of citizen engagement on U.S. poverty. Go to our International Conference page to download a letter you can customize and send as an invitation.

Finally, it is still not too late to register for the conference. Go to our International Conference page for details.


Mark Your Calendars: June RESULTS Domestic National Conference Call Moved to 2:00 pm ET

The June 2011 RESULTS Domestic national conference call will be held at 2:00 pm ET on Saturday, June 11, not the usual 12:30 pm ET time. This will be a joint conference call with our RESULTS Global volunteers. Ambassador Tony Hall, who initiated the recent Hunger Fast effort, will be the guest speaker on the call. Because Ambassador Hall is an inspiring champion for the poor and hungry, we wanted all RESULTS volunteers to have the opportunity to hear from him. Please mark your calendars accordingly.


Quick News

White House Stands Up for Medicaid. As reported in the Washington Post, White House Director of the National Economics Council, Gene Sperling, made a strong case for protecting Medicaid in upcoming budget negotiations. Sperling said “[F]rom a policy perspective, from a values perspective, we should be very deeply troubled by the Medicaid cuts in the House Republican plan. . . . After they completely repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would take away coverage for 34 million Americans..., they do a block grant that would cut Medicaid by $770 billion. In 2021, that would cut the program by 35 percent. Under their own numbers, by 2030, it would cut projected spending in Medicaid by half.” As Ezra Klein also points out in the piece, Medicaid is actually more cost efficient than private insurance. Send an e-mail to Congress telling them to reject cuts to Medicaid in the FY 2012 budget.

Plan to Attend June 1 Conference Call on Vermont’s Single Payer Law. Last week, Vermont became the first state to enact the nation’s first state-based, single-payer law. RESULTS supports a national health program, which is a single-payer system. Tomorrow, June 1 at 1:00 pm ET, there will be a national conference call providing an overview of the new law, sponsored by Vermont Citizens Campaign for Health (VCCH). To participate, dial (712) 432-3066, passcode 320217. For more details about the call, see this VCCH notice.

Join Half in Ten "Storymap" Conference Call this Thursday. Half in Ten and the Coalition on Human Needs have come together to launch the “Road to Shared Prosperity,” an interactive state-by-state map displaying the personal stories of low-income Americans, service providers, and community leaders. This week, they will host a webinar to learn more about the storymap and how you can incorporate stories from your state into your advocacy efforts. Learn how to use this incredible resource and to get the tips and tricks you’ll need to use this tool. The call is this Thursday, June 2 at 3:30 pm ET. Just go to the Half in Ten registration page to sign up for the call.

Join CHN “Stop the Slashing” Budget Webinar Next Week. Upset about radical budgets that cut the human out of human services? Plan to join the Coalition on Human Needs for a webinar next Tuesday to learn how you can fight back. Massive cuts to programs that help low-income individuals and families don’t have straightforward names like “The Act to Slash Health Care for Older Americans” or “The Act to Cut Services for Low- and Moderate-Income Americans in order to Provide Enormous Tax Breaks for the Rich.” Instead, Congress is talking about global caps, balanced budget amendments, debt ceiling increases, deficit reduction. This webinar will help explain the unprecedented seriousness of the threats and show the impact of the most prominent plans to cut, cap, and restrict the federal role in meeting human needs. You’ll also learn about constructive alternatives and how to educate others on what’s at stake. The webinar is next Tuesday, June 7 at 2:00 pm ET. To participate, go to the CHN registration page to sign up.


Announcements

RESULTS Also Supporting Other Early Childhood Initiatives. RESULTS and our allies are not just focusing on Head Start and child care this year. We also support other investments in early childhood development programs, including the establishment of an Early Learning Challenge Fund, as put forward by the Obama Administration, and supports for early childhood programs as part of any education reforms. The final FY 2011 budget allocated 700 million to Race to the Top, and in late May Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that $500 million would be invested in early childhood – specifically, competitive education grants for states to be used for grants to states to improve their early care and education systems.

New Budget Resources from NWLC. Our friends at the National Women’s Law Center have some helpful new resources as we wade deeper into the 2012 budget debate. There is a paper explaining what a global spending cap is and its detrimental affect on Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other programs. There is also a fact sheet on a balanced budget amendment and why it is not the way to get our finances in order. Finally, NWLC has state-by-state data on the impact of the various threats to the Medicaid program, the representation of women in the Medicaid program, and illustrations of how deep Medicaid funding cuts and program restructuring will jeopardize women’s access to vital health services. See also RESULTS’ budget and advocacy resources from the recent “To Catch a Dollar” campaign.


Upcoming Events

(See a complete calendar)

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

Wednesday, June 1: Conference Call about Vermont’s New Single-Payer Health Law, 1:00 pm ET.

Thursday, June 2: Half in Ten’s “Storymap” Conference Call, 3:30 pm ET.

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

Tuesday, June 7: CHN’s “Stop the Slashing” Budget Webinar, 2:00 pm ET.

Saturday, June 11: RESULTS Joint Global and Domestic National Conference Call featuring Ambassador Tony Hall, 2:00 pm ET (Note the adjusted time).

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.