U.S. Poverty Weekly Update March 13, 2012

Whether or not America’s most vulnerable young children and their families will reach their potential depends in large part on our investment in these programs.

— Excerpt from the Kildee-Platts “Dear Colleague” letter in support of Head Start and child care assistance

New and Urgent in This Weeks Update (2-10-20 Actions)

Each week, we highlight specific actions you can take based on how much time you have available. We call them our 2-10-20 Actions (if you have two minutes, ten minutes or twenty minutes available). Click on the links below for details about each action.

Latest from Washington, DC

Organizational Updates


Call House Aides Urge Representatives to Sign on to the Kildee-Platts “Dear Colleague” Letter (March Action)

As the budget process moves forward, let’s send the message early about protecting early childhood programs in the FY 2013 budget. Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI-5) and Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA-19) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter urging House leaders to protect Head Start and child care services. This letter urges House appropriators to allocate a $325 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start in FY 2013. This allows for a more substantial cost of living increase that reflects costs of keeping qualified staff and some expansion of Early Head Start services for infants and toddlers. In addition, it requests a $825 million increase for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in FY 2013, which will help make up some ground lost last year when some of the CCDBG slots created in 2009 and 2010 were cut.

By getting as many signatures as possible on the letter, we can send a strong message to House leaders that early childhood investments must be a priority in next year’s budget. The deadline for signatures is tomorrow, March 14. Be sure to call today!

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes and call your House early childhood aide and urge them to ask your representative to sign onto the Kildee-Platts letter. You can find contact information and staff names on our Elected Officials page. Once connected with the early childhood aide, please say:

My name is ________________ and I am a constituent of Rep. ___________________ from ___________________. I am also a RESULTS volunteer. I believe very strongly in early childhood programs like Head Start and child care assistance. These services give at-risk children the foundation they need to succeed in school while allowing parents to work knowing their children are in a safe, nurturing environment. Studies show that children who participate in high quality early learning programs stay in school longer, grow up healthier, stay out of trouble, and are more productive as adults. We need to maintain these services so at-risk children and their families have better opportunities to reach their full potential.

Rep. Kildee from Michigan and Rep. Platts from Pennsylvania are circulating a Dear Colleague letter urging House appropriators to allocate funding necessary to protect these services in the FY 2013. This means a $325 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start in FY 2013 and a $825 million increase for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). As a constituent, I would like to see the Congressman/woman sign on to the letter in support of these funding levels. The deadline to sign on is Wednesday, March 14. Will you please talk to Rep. _____________________ and urge him/her to sign on?

You can find a copy of the Kildee-Platts letter on the RESULTS website in both MS Word and PDF format. You can read more about the letter and this action in our March 2012 U.S. Poverty Action. You can also see a sample conversation with an aide about the letter on the RESULTS website. Remember, the deadline to sign on is tomorrow, March 14 so please call today!


Call Your Entire House Delegation Urging Them to Sign on to the Kildee-Platts Letter (March Action)

If you have a few extra minutes this week, in addition to contacting your representative about the Kildee-Platts letter, call other House members from your state and urge them to sign on as well. As noted above, the more signers we get, the stronger the message we send to appropriators. And the timing could not be more important. The House is expected to release its budget next week and instead of adhering to the overall funding levels for FY 2013 agreed upon in last summer’s Budget Control Act, some House Republicans are pushing to renege on that agreement and cut domestic discretionary funding even further. However, appropriators and Republican moderates are pushing back, urging the House to stick to the BCA levels.

While the House budget will not specify funding levels for specific programs as the Kildee-Platts letter does (the budget determines the size of the pie; the appropriations process later this year slices it up), it can send a strong message. The message that we cannot skimp on the important priorities of our country. As Helen Blank noted on Saturday’s conference call, unlike k-12 education, funding for early childhood programs mostly comes from the federal government. Therefore, cuts to this funding impact families and communities across the nation. Let’s send a clear message that we will not accept short-changing our children’s future.

TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes and call your House aide and the aides for all your state’s representatives urging them to have representatives sign onto the Kildee-Platts “Dear Colleague” letter. Use the talking points listed above, as well as the March Action to help with your calls. You can find contact information for congressional offices on the Elected Officials page of the RESULTS website. Remember, the deadline to sign on is tomorrow, March 14 so please call today!


Friends & Family Fundraising Update: Please Do Your Follow Up Calls

RESULTS volunteers are continuing their great efforts at generating financial support for RESULTS work through our Friends & Family Fundraising Campaign. We’ve reached the midpoint of the campaign and have raised $11,500 of our $30,000 goal so far. Thanks to each and every one of you for reaching out to the people in your circle to share your passion and an opportunity to give. Special recognition goes to our top individual fundraisers Margaret Smith, Phyllis Behlen, Sandra Eagle, Betsy Gast, and Laura Ochoa. In addition, activists from Connecticut, Dallas, Kitsap, and Omaha are keeping their groups in the race to win a free International Conference registration by raising the most funds.

It is worth reiterating over and over that the key to making your fundraising efforts successful is follow-up. Taking a few minutes to call the people from whom you’ve asked for donations to see if they have questions about your work with RESULTS or why they should donate. Whether you’re using mailed letters or an online webpage, personal follow-up phone calls are a proven way to increase donations. Making these calls can sometimes seem intimidating but remember, it’s not your job to pressure people into giving. Instead just gently remind them that you’re inviting them to help end poverty and simply offer to answer questions they may have about RESULTS. To help, we have call scripts on line to help you in the Guide for Mailed Letters and the Guide for Online Fundraising. 

To help promote your online fundraising webpage, visit our blog for tips on promoting your webpage with social media. To get your webpage noticed on Facebook or Twitter, repetition is the key. You should post about it at least once or twice a week and be sure to keep it fresh — be creative in your messages about why folks should donate. Use your imagination and get creative in your short messages about why people should donate. You can mention how RESULTS affects you personally. You could share facts about poverty or our successes. Just remember to always include the webpage address URL wherever you mention the fundraiser, so that people can easily get to it with just one click. Visit our RESULTS blog for specific tips and detailed instructions on how to use these tools. 

TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes and follow up with your potential Friends & Family donors. Call them up to share why you give to RESULTS, answer any questions about RESULTS, and walk them through donating online (if that’s their preference). These calls are a surefire way to help you reach your fundraising goal. To help you track your progress, RESULTS Grassroots Development Associate Cindy Levin will be contacting group leaders with lists of donors to date who have given online or mailed in donations. This should help you know where to focus your follow up strategy. Please contact Cindy Levin at [email protected] if you have questions.

One last note, if you are not participating in the Friends & Family campaign, you can still help out fellow partners by making a contribution yourself. Pick a fellow RESULTS friend or group and donate via their webpages — you might even help someone get a free registration to the International Conference. Go to www.results.org and click on the big red DONATE button to get to the Friends & Family main page. Use the search tool to find the person(s) and/or group(s) you want to donate to.


Urge Members of Congress to Support Head Start and Child Care Services (March Action)

RESULTS’ action priority this week is obviously to get as many signers onto the Kildee-Platts sign on letter as possible before tomorrow’s deadline (see above). However, we want to make sure we reiterate that message with our senators and representatives even after the letter is submitted.

This past Saturday, RESULTS U.S. Poverty volunteers gathered on our monthly national conference call to learn more about the importance of Head Start, Early Head Start and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Our guest speaker was Helen Blank of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), a nationally revered expert on early learning policy. Helen provided us an excellent overview of the current state of Head Start and child care in the budget process, as well as reminding us just how important these programs are to low-income families. She reminded us that the research is clear that high quality early childhood has a tremendous return on investment. Children in these programs are less likely to engage in risky behavior (including teen pregnancy) and are less likely to need special education. It is also very important to get to children during first three years is when brain development happens, which sets framework for success in the early years. Unfortunately, many low income children often don’t have an enriching environment, which means when they start Kindergarten, they’re already behind.

Helen also noted that we also need good child care opportunities so parents can work. While so much of the focus is on the value of investing in early years, we cannot forget that children do better when the family has a higher income and the mother is educated. Child care assistance helps mothers get and keep a job. Helen said that this message might be helpful for more conservative members of Congress; to remind them that when parents are working, they are less likely to need welfare benefits or other public assistance.

Helen also said that policymakers do understand that early childhood development is important. Because of this greater awareness, advocates were able to push Congress to maintain the Head Start services that were in the 2009 economic recovery package. However, many states are cutting child care services. NWLC study: families in 37 states worse off in 1 or more policies, which is why these federal investments are so important.

We thank Helen for being our guest speaker this month and for her commitment to protecting at-risk children and their families across America. To hear all of what Helen said, you can listen to a recording of the March conference call on the RESULTS website.

TAKE ACTION: After you have called about the Kildee-Platts letter with House members, take the March Action. Call or write your senators and representatives urging them to support Head Start and child care services in the FY 2013 budget. Let’s remind them again and again about the importance of investing in early childhood development. Specifically, urge them to:

  • Increase funding for Head Start and Early Head Start by $325 million over the FY 2012 levels. This allows for a more substantial cost of living increase that reflects costs of keeping qualified staff.
  • Increase funding for CCDBG by $825 million over FY 2012 levels. This will help make up some ground lost last year when some of the CCDBG slots created in 2009 and 2010 were cut.

Use the March 2012 U.S. Poverty Action for talking points for your letters and calls. Also, if your representative signed onto the Kildee-Platts letter, please be sure to thank them for their support.


Contact House and Senate Offices to Set Up Face-to-Face Meetings

The House is on recess this week. Follow up on your face-to-face meeting requests in February by contacting congressional schedulers to see if you can meet with your representatives while they’re home. If you cannot get a meeting, ask to see if your representative is holding any town hall meetings during this recess. Be sure to also contact your senate offices to request a meeting during the April recess (April 2-15). The House will also be on recess the first two weeks of April. You can find schedulers’ names and contact info on our Elected Officials page.

The February Action has tips on scheduling a meeting, as well as talking points for each of our major issues. In your meetings, be sure to take our 2012 Request and Background sheets. These one-page “leave behinds” are summaries of our 2012 requests and background on each issue. We have sheets covering low-income tax credits, the Saver’s Bonus, and Head Start and child care. Once you get a meeting scheduled, please contact the RESULTS Domestic staff to help you and your group prepare for your meeting(s).


Quick News

Senate Ag Committee Begins Farm Bill Hearings. In the wake of Congress’s collapsed deficit-reduction process last fall, which included attempts at fast-tracking a new Farm Bill, the Senate Agriculture Committee has returned to a more traditional Farm Bill reauthorization process with a series of hearings this month. This is an important process for those concerned about hunger in America and, in particular, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Last Wednesday, the Senate Ag Committee held a hearing featuring Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and number of community-based organizations and individuals. While largely focused on the economic, health, and environmental benefits of supporting local and regional food systems, witnesses and committee members took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of protecting and strengthening SNAP and other important nutrition programs. For a more detailed overview of the hearing, please see Emerson Hunger Fellow Allison Burket’s RESULTS Blog Post. You can also send a message to Congress and the President urging them to reinforce the nutrition safety net.


RESULTS International Conference

2012 RESULTS International Conference registrations are coming in already with people not wanting to miss out on the discounted registration fee. If you have not done so yet, register today for the conference coming up this July 21-24 in Washington, DC. The registration fee is only $150 until April 16.

Also, if you are 18-25 year old, be sure to apply for our REAL Change Scholarship program. If you are selected to participate, you will have a full and rewarding experience at the conference with most of your costs covered. This is a great opportunity so don’t pass it up. RESULTS groups out there can also nominate people to participate in the REAL Change program.

Finally, we are now accepting applications for the Karen McQuillan Scholarship Fund. The Fund, established in 1998 honoring RESULTS’ first Domestic coordinator, offers assistance with fees, lodging, travel, and related costs for the International Conference. The goal is to provide support for those who would otherwise be unable to participate due to costs. Every effort is made to distribute resources as fairly and equitably as possible. You must be an active RESULTS volunteer in the United States to apply. Please note that funds are extremely limited so please submit your applications as soon as possible. Early applications will also allow us to secure the lowest transportation costs (so more people can benefit from the Fund) and make it more likely you will be funded. Financial assistance will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis. To apply, download and fill out an application. The priority application deadline is April 9th and the late submission deadline is June 15th. Please contact Alison Burket at [email protected] with any questions.

You can find information about registration, REAL Change, the KMQ Fund, and everything else about the 2012 conference on our RESULTS International Conference page.


Announcements

Urge People to Join This Friday’s RESULTS Intro Call. Our next RESULTS Intro Call is this Friday, March 16 at 1 pm ET. If you haven’t recommended this call to a friend or family member, please do so today. These calls are a great introduction to RESULTS for people unfamiliar with our work. The calls are each month on the first Wednesday at 9 pm ET and third Friday at 1 pm ET. If you know someone who might be interested, please encourage them to sign up using the Intro Call registration link at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet. If you have any questions, please contact Jos Linn at [email protected].

Help Us Grow RESULTS in the Northeast. We are working to start new groups in various areas around the country. Next week, we are holding an informational conference call for people in Rochester, NY in the hopes of getting a new group started there in the next few months. The call is Tuesday, March 20 at 7 pm ET. If you know anyone in the Rochester area, please contact Jos Linn ([email protected]) for information about the call. In addition, Meredith Dodson will be traveling to New England in the next few months. We are looking to start new groups in Massachusetts and Maine. If you know anyone in New England (or other parts of the country) who might be interested in getting involved with RESULTS, please contact Meredith at [email protected].

Send in Your Group Plans. Most RESULTS U.S. Poverty Groups have completed their group plan meeting but only a few have submitted their plans. We are eager to see what inspiring goals you have set for yourselves in 2012. Please submit your final Group Plan Summary form to your group members, Regional Coordinator and Meredith Dodson ([email protected]) as soon as possible.  


RESULTS Activity Calendar

(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)

Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House recesses, March 9-18, March 30-April 15. Senate recess, April 2-13. Request face-to-face meetings!

Friday, March 16: RESULTS Introductory Call, 9:00 pm ET. RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSMeetandGreet.

Saturday, April 14: Joint RESULTS U.S. and Global Poverty National Conference Call, 2:00 pm ET. Note the different time. Listen to previous conference calls online.

Saturday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 24, 2012: RESULTS International Conference, Washington, DC. Start planning today to attend our 2012 conference!


RESULTS Contact Information

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.