Domestic Weekly Update May 3, 2011
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update
Latest from Washington, DC
Strengthen Your Early Childhood Advocacy by Visiting Your Local Head Start Center (May Action)
Congress is back in Washington after the spring recess. Thank you to all of you who met with members of Congress and their staff or attended town hall meetings during the recess. The fate of Head Start, Early Head Start , and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding in 2012 rests on people like you standing up for children and families.
In May, we want to better inform our advocacy on early childhood programs by visiting a local Head Start center. Visiting your local Head Start center will give you the opportunity to deepen your knowledge of Head Start and its impact in your community. By meeting with staff and parents, you can get the data and stories necessary to impact members of Congress on this issue. A recent survey of congressional staff showed that when asked what best influences members of Congress on the issues, demonstrating how an issue or policy affects people in their home state or district was at the top of the list. Visiting your local Head Start center will help provide you the details about that impact.
In addition, these site visits also help you connect with another potential ally in your community. Connecting with allies is a necessary tool in building the political will to end poverty. By expanding your influence base to other groups and organizations, you amplify your voice to lawmakers. Your Head Start site visit this month provides you that opportunity. You may meet a staff person who can provide you ongoing information about the local program to use in your advocacy. You may meet a parent who would welcome the chance to attend a local lobby meeting with your senators or congressman. Your visit may prompt an advocacy training to the local Head Start Policy Council (made up of staff and parents), much like the RESULTS Cedar Rapids group did a few weeks ago. And who knows, you may even get some potential new members to your local action network or some new volunteers for your group.
Advocacy is more than just lobbying for the things we care about. It is also about taking every opportunity we can to strengthen our voices and make our work as effective as possible. With the RESULTS International Conference coming up, as well as recesses in May, July and August, the May Action is just such an opportunity for us to make a bigger and better difference.
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.
Urge Representatives and Senators to Weigh In with Key Committee Members on Head Start and Child Care (April Action)
Now that Congress is back in session and the FY 2011 budget is completed, work will quickly ramp up around the FY 2012 budget process. Since our focus right now centers around Head Start, Early Head Start , and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding, the key committees we need to influence are the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. These committees decide the annual funding levels for all domestic discretionary programs (programs that are funded on a yearly basis). Each Appropriations Committee has subcommittees who oversee specific programs. The House and Senate Labor Health, Human Services, and Education appropriations subcommittees (Labor-HHS) are the subcommittees that decide funding for Head Start and CCDBG. Therefore, members of these committees are very important.
Right now, the subcommittee heads are getting input from their House and Senate colleagues on funding priorities. This is a key time in making sure they fund Head Start and child care at appropriate levels. If we don’t weigh in now and often, other priorities will take precedence.
TAKE ACTION: 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 CCDBG 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). Urge them to act now as the deadline for input for some subcommittees is May 13.
Also, be sure to read our RESULTS Blog post about the “global spending cap” that was highlighted in last week’s Update. These cap proposals affect every program we work to protect including Head Start and child care, and could become an urgent issue in the coming weeks and months.
Last week was another exciting week in our work around the “To Catch a Dollar” campaign. RESULTS presented and/or hosted three webinars designed to educate people about advocacy and solutions to poverty in America. All three webinars were well attended and well received. If you missed one or more of the webinars, have no fear. “To Catch a Dollar” has made available copies of the PowerPoints used in each webinar; they also plan to have recordings of the webinars up very soon. Visit our “To Catch a Dollar” Resources page for links to the webinar summaries and the PowerPoint presentations.
Be sure to also read the blog post on both the RESULTS Blog and the “To Catch a Dollar” website from our very own Meredith Dodson, highlighting her reflections of our work with the campaign the last few months. We thank you all for your hard work during the last two months on “To Catch a Dollar” and look forward to more exciting opportunities moving forward.
TAKE ACTION: If you missed last week’s webinars, take some time in the next few weeks to read through the PowerPoint presentations from each webinar. You can find links to each webinar on the “To Catch a Dollar” Resources page. Also, keep doing follow-up with people you connected with at and after your local screening; invite them to attend your next RESULTS group meeting. Follow-up resources can also be found on the “To Catch a Dollar” Resources page. Finally, invite new activists to participate in our spring New Activist Orientation series. This 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 calls are April 13 and 27, and 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 call, you can still join the series.
The 2011 RESULTS International Conference (June 19-21) will be here before you know it. If you haven’t registered yet, you’ll want to do so today. Today is the deadline to get the standard conference registration fee of $250. This fee covers the cost of your registration as well as your admission to the Capitol Hill Reception on Lobby Day, June 21. After today, $50 will be added to the registration cost.
Anyone who has attended the RESULTS International Conference will tell you it is well worth the time and money. Where else can you connect with like-minded anti-poverty advocates from around the world, hear from world-renowned speakers and experts, meet face-to-face with multiple legislators and staff all in one day, and best of all, watch RESULTS staff make fools of themselves at Karaoke. Don’t miss this wonderful experience — you won’t regret it!
TAKE ACTION: Register for the conference TODAY! Go to our International Conference page for more information. Please note: We have almost filled our block of rooms at the Four Points Sheraton — register today to ensure your discounted rate. In addition, here are some other actions to help prepare you for a great conference experience:
Thank you all and we look forward to seeing you next month in Washington DC!
In March, we looked at all the successes RESULTS volunteers had accomplished in the first two months of 2011 around issues of U.S. poverty. Looking at what has happened since, it seems that you weren’t done by a long shot. RESULTS activists continue to rally around our work on early childhood development and economic opportunity by meeting with legislators, generating media, and planning events. Here are just a few of the highlights of your great work in March and April of this year:
Congratulations to you all! And please note, this list does not include other actions you have taken such as attending town hall meetings, meeting with aides, making calls and writing letters. This is what generating political will looks like. Thank you all for your efforts and please keep them up. It is only our continued efforts at meeting with and influencing members of Congress that will get the job done.
If you have a milestone that is not listed above, please let us know. We want to make sure our entire network can celebrate your accomplishments.
Sign Your RESULTS Group onto 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. This despite evidence that SNAP worked very effectively in reducing hunger during the economic downturn (see below). 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. Urge other groups in your area to sign on as well.
USDA: ARRA Increase in SNAP Worked. In a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the temporary increases in benefits helped reduce hunger among low-income households. The report shows that money spent on food by low-income households increased by about 5.4 percent and their food insecurity declined by 2.2 percentage points from 2008 to 2009. Unfortunately, food insecurity remained the same for households with incomes somewhat above the SNAP eligibility range. These findings “suggest that the ARRA SNAP enhancements contributed substantially to improvements for low-income households.”
Vermont on the Verge of Creating a Single Payer Health System. Last week, the Vermont Senate passed a single payer health bill, clearing the way for the bill to become law this year. The Senate voted 21-9 to create a single payer health program that would cover all citizens of the state beginning in 2014. The Vermont House has previously passed a similar bill last month. Once the two bills are reconciled, the governor is expected to sign it. Once signed, it will be the first state-level single payer system in the country. There are still roadblocks, however. To implement the plan, the state must obtain a waiver from the Affordable Care Act from the federal government. Also, legislation must pass the Congress moving the waiver date up to 2014; right now, states are not eligible to get waivers until 2017.
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. You can find information about the recent Hunger Fast as well as updated versions of our faith-based advocacy curriculum “Turning the Ship.” These and other resources can help you with your efforts to engage local faith communities in anti-poverty advocacy. Also, if you are attending the RESULTS International Conference, please plan to attend the Faith in Action Brown Bag Breakfast on June 20.
(See a complete calendar)
Tuesday, May 3: Deadline to register for the RESULTS International Conference at normal rate of $250 (rate increases by $50 after May 3).
Monday, May 9: Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity audio conference with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), 4:00 pm ET. This call will offer an insider’s perspective on the latest budget developments in Congress. Reserve your spot by signing up today.
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.
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.
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.