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CBO — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Spending and Policy Options

January 22, 2015 Comments off

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: Spending and Policy Options
Source: Congressional Budget Office

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federal program that provides cash assistance, work support, and other services to some low-income families. The cash assistance is generally limited to families with income well below the poverty threshold and few assets; it goes to roughly 2 million families per month, most of them headed by single mothers. The work support (such as subsidized child care) and the other services (such as initiatives to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies and promote marriage) are usually available to families with income up to twice the poverty threshold.

The states administer TANF and have considerable latitude in determining the mix of cash assistance, work support, and other services that it provides. However, if too few families receiving cash assistance are participating in work-related activities, a state can lose some federal funding. States therefore impose work requirements on recipients of cash assistance. Also, those recipients face federal limits on how long they are eligible for cash assistance. The work requirements and the time limits are intended to achieve one of TANF’s goals: ending recipients’ dependence on government benefits.

A New Majority Research Bulletin: Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation’s Public Schools

January 17, 2015 Comments off

A New Majority Research Bulletin: Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation’s Public Schools
Source: Southern Education Foundation

Low income students are now a majority of the schoolchildren attending the nation’s public schools, according to this research bulletin. The latest data collected from the states by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), show that 51 percent of the students across the nation’s public schools were low income in 2013.

In 40 of the 50 states, low income students comprised no less than 40 percent of all public schoolchildren. In 21 states, children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches were a majority of the students in 2013.

Most of the states with a majority of low income students are found in the South and the West. Thirteen of the 21 states with a majority of low income students in 2013 were located in the South, and six of the other 21 states were in the West.

Mississippi led the nation with the highest rate: ­71 percent, almost three out of every four public school children in Mississippi, were low-income. The nation’s second highest rate was found in New Mexico, where 68 percent of all public school students were low income in 2013.

MPI Releases Detailed Data Profiles of Unauthorized Immigrants and Estimates of Deferred Action Populations for Top U.S. Counties

January 16, 2015 Comments off

MPI Releases Detailed Data Profiles of Unauthorized Immigrants and Estimates of Deferred Action Populations for Top U.S. Counties
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) today released data profiles of unauthorized immigrants in the 94 U.S. counties with the largest such populations, including detailed information on population size, countries of origin, recency of arrival, educational enrollment and attainment, health insurance coverage, poverty levels and potential eligibility for the two deferred action programs launched by the Obama administration.

The profiles for the 94 counties, which are home to approximately two-thirds of the 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, are the latest addition to a unique data tool that offers detailed information on this population at national and state levels, including those potentially eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or the recently announced Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. Using an innovative MPI methodology that takes U.S. Census Bureau data and imputes legal status for noncitizens, the tool also provides estimates of the age, gender, parental and marital status, top languages spoken, labor force participation and home ownership rates for unauthorized immigrants.

The county profiles reveal that the top five counties with the largest populations potentially eligible for relief from deportation through DACA or DAPA — Los Angeles, CA; Harris, TX; Orange, CA; Cook, IL; and Dallas, TX — account for 1.1 million people, over one-fifth of the total potentially eligible population nationwide, which MPI estimates at 5.2 million.

Ending Child Hunger in the United States

January 16, 2015 Comments off

Ending Child Hunger in the United States (PDF)
Source: Bread for the World Institute

In 2013, 15.8 million U.S. children were at risk of hunger. For children, even brief periods of hunger carry consequences that may last a lifetime. Many children suffer from nutritional deficiencies, sometimes referred to as “hidden hunger” since they can cause serious health problems in children who don’t “look hungry.” Nutrition affects mental health and academic achievement as well as physical health. But the damage caused by food insecurity is unnecessary and preventable. Federal nutrition programs help millions of children eat well; these programs must be maintained and strengthened to provide more eligible children with healthier food. When Congress reauthorizes child nutrition programs in 2015, the emphasis must be on enabling programs to serve all eligible children well—from WIC for infants, to meals at daycare for preschoolers, to school lunch, breakfast, and summer food for elementary and secondary students. The United States simply cannot afford the consequences of allowing children to go without the nutritious food they need. Strong child nutrition programs must be a top national priority.

Hunger and Poverty among Hispanics — Fact Sheet

January 15, 2015 Comments off

Hunger and Poverty among Hispanics — Fact Sheet (PDF)
Source: Bread for the World Institute

As millions of Americans begin to climb out of the deep hole the recession created, the federal government has to focus on further reducing unemployment as well as income inequality. Communities of color tend to suffer disproportionately from unemployment and low wages, thus experiencing higher levels of poverty and hunger. Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, both in native-born and foreign-born populations. However, Hispanics, as with the general population, are starting to see reductions of hunger and poverty due to a decrease in unemployment.

Spanish version also available.

Household Poverty And Nonfatal Violent Victimization, 2008–2012

January 15, 2015 Comments off

Household Poverty And Nonfatal Violent Victimization, 2008–2012
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Presents findings from 2008 to 2012 on the relationship between households that were above or below the federal poverty level and nonfatal violent victimization, including rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault. This report examines the violent victimization experiences of persons living in households at various levels of poverty, focusing on type of violence, victim’s race or Hispanic origin, and location of residence. It also examines the percentage of violent victimizations reported to the police by poverty level. Data are from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which collects information on nonfatal crimes, reported and not reported to the police, against persons age 12 or older from a nationally representative sample of U.S. households. During 2012, about 92,390 households and 162,940 persons were interviewed for the NCVS.

Highlights:

For the period 2008–12—

  • Persons in poor households at or below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) (39.8 per 1,000) had more than double the rate of violent victimization as persons in high-income households (16.9 per 1,000).
  • Persons in poor households had a higher rate of violence involving a firearm (3.5 per 1,000) compared to persons above the FPL (0.8–2.5 per 1,000).
  • The overall pattern of poor persons having the highest rates of violent victimization was consistent for both whites and blacks. However, the rate of violent victimization for Hispanics did not vary across poverty levels.
  • Poor Hispanics (25.3 per 1,000) had lower rates of violence compared to poor whites (46.4 per 1,000) and poor blacks (43.4 per 1,000).
  • Poor persons living in urban areas (43.9 per 1,000) had violent victimization rates similar to poor persons living in rural areas (38.8 per 1,000).
  • Poor urban blacks (51.3 per 1,000) had rates of violence similar to poor urban whites (56.4 per 1,000).

Approximately 1 Million Unemployed Childless Adults Will Lose SNAP Benefits in 2016 as State Waivers Expire

January 12, 2015 Comments off

Approximately 1 Million Unemployed Childless Adults Will Lose SNAP Benefits in 2016 as State Waivers Expire
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Roughly 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) over the course of 2016, due to the return in many areas of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-50 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children. These individuals will lose their food assistance benefits after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work.

One of the harshest pieces of the 1996 welfare law, this provision limits such individuals to three months of SNAP benefits in any 36-month period when they aren’t employed or in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week. Even SNAP recipients whose state operates few or no employment programs for them and fails to offer them a spot in a work or training program — which is the case in most states — have their benefits cut off after three months irrespective of whether they are searching diligently for a job. Because this provision denies basic food assistance to people who want to work and will accept any job or work program slot offered, it is effectively a severe time limit rather than a work requirement, as such requirements are commonly understood. Work requirements in public assistance programs typically require people to look for work and accept any job or employment program slot that is offered but do not cut off people who are willing to work and looking for a job simply because they can’t find one.

The loss of this food assistance, which averages approximately $150 to $200 per person per month for this group, will likely cause serious hardship among many. Agriculture Department (USDA) data show that the individuals subject to the three-month limit have average monthly income of approximately 19 percent of the poverty line, and they typically qualify for no other income support.

The indigent individuals at risk are diverse. About 40 percent are women. Close to one-third are over age 40. Among those who report their race, about half are white, a third are African American, and a tenth are Hispanic. Half have only a high school diploma or GED. They live in all areas of the country, and among those for whom data on metropolitan status are available, about 40 percent live in urban areas, 40 percent in suburban areas, and 20 percent in rural areas.

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