Best of the Web
A round-up of children's issues in the news and on the blogs
A Recipe for Better Policies for Texas Children
The free and open forums that we at Texans Care lead year-round continue, even as the person who previously spearheaded that work, policy director Jodie Smith, moves on. This post introduces our team of issue-area experts.
A shocking new report found that almost 60 percent of Texas secondary students get expelled or suspended, often repeatedly and for minor offenses. The good news is there are solutions for our schools and our state, as a Houston Chronicle op-ed co-written by Texans Care and Texas Appleseed explains.
New Online Resources for Health Care Policy
A new online hub from Atlantic Philanthropies monitors state and national health care reform implementation and opposition across the country. Additionally, a report from the Georgetown Center on Children and Families looks at the role Medicaid plays in the lives of children with special health care needs.
Our ongoing partnership with parenting blog Livemom.com led to this series of posts about what this year's Texas legislative session meant for families. From "Top 20 New Laws for Kids" to "Pro-Kids, or You've-Got-to-Be-Kidding?," the posts explain major developments from the 82nd Lege for a parent audience.
Juvenile Justice System Needs Continued Vigilance
The overhaul happening in the state's juvenile justice system doesn't guarantee success, our CEO Eileen Garcia explains in an Austin American-Statesman op-ed. Rather, it is the first of many crucial steps for putting troubled youth on a better path.
In the weeks ahead, there will be opportunities to learn and receive training from the Texas Network of Youth Services, Texas CASA, and more. A new series of free online trainings from state Child Care Licensing is also available.
Fewer children will have access to ECI services, because the Texas Legislature cut the program's budget. Still, an active new coalition of families and advocates led by Texans Care and the Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) worked diligently this session to minimize the cuts. TCDD also compiled a series of family stories about why the program is so vital for babies, toddlers, and Texas's future.
Keeping Kids Fit, Healthy
As They Go Back to School
The environment in which kids play and are exposed to marketing is too often not conducive to healthy eating and physical activity. Waco Today spoke with Texans Care for Children's board president and staff about what schools and policymakers can do to bring back healthier environments.
Pared Down, Prettied Up Email Changes
You want the latest news on Texas children and policy, and you don't want inbox clutter, so we're changing our email offerings. Starting with this update, we now have 3 straightforward options to serve you better:
- This email is the first of our new and improved Voice. In place of the old newsletter format, we now offer "spotlights": monthly showcases of one resource and one organization making a difference for Texas children. You'll also find links to other updates, blog posts, and more in each Texans Care Voice.
- When lawmakers need to hear from you, our Action Alerts will let you know what's at stake, who to contact, and what to say.
- If your focus is a particular children's issue, such as obesity prevention or child protection, now you can stay posted with messages directly from Texans Care's policy team. Get signed up for any one of 8 specialized policy lists, campaigns, or coalitions led by our in-house experts. Upcoming events, training opportunities, new research, and developments in the field will arrive in your inbox directly from the staff person who knows that topic best, making it easier for you to connect directly.
As always, we appreciate your role in our work to improve children's lives and welcome your feedback. Share your thoughts with a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, or join the conversation on our Facebook page.
Resource Spotlight: Juvenile Law Issues
Historic transitions are taking place in the way our state approaches certain issues for children. In a new publication, our partner, the Texas Bar, highlights how this year's legislature drove change with new laws on everything from mental health care for foster children to restructuring the juvenile justice system.
The August 2011 Special Legislative Issue of the Bar's juvenile law newsletter includes Texans Care for Children's summary of Child Protection highlights in the 82nd Texas Legislature. To read the article from Texans Care's policy team and review the full juvenile law newsletter, click here.
Member Spotlight: Saint Louise House
Here at Texans Care, we benefit from hearing the insights and experiences of our member organizations, and we think you will, too. Members of our coalition represent all kinds of groups, each committed to improving young lives in Texas. This month's spotlight is on Saint Louise House, which provides supportive housing for single mothers and their children overcoming homelessness.
Tell us a little about Saint Louise House and the children and families you serve.
Saint Louise was founded in 2000 to address the drastic shortage of safe housing and supportive services for homeless women and children. Today, 31 families live in our long-term supportive housing communities. Each family lives in a private apartment and receives case management services to help develop the skills and resources they need to achieve independence.
Providing supportive housing for mothers and their children clearly benefits the families you work with. Can you speak also to the difference your services make for the community as a whole?
Everyone benefits when families are off the street and living in a safe and secure place. Nutrition is improved and physical and mental health problems can be treated early on, decreasing the burden on the medical system; children do better in school and act out less frequently, making the classroom environment better for all the students; children grow up to become more capable adults; and formerly homeless adults are less likely to commit crimes or abuse drugs and alcohol.
What role do public systems (i.e., government at any level) have in helping you achieve your mission?
The City of Austin gave Saint Louise House $3.5 million worth of forgivable loans to buy two apartment complexes. We rent these apartments to women-headed families for nominal rents (most families pay $20 a month) as they work with case managers, go back to school, find childcare, attend counseling, get jobs and stabilize their families.
Many services for families in poverty were not adequately protected in this year's budget. Are there specific budget choices that particularly have led you to be concerned?
Earlier this summer, the State Legislature did not renew $20 million worth of Homeless Housing and Services Program (HHSP) funds. That was a loss to Saint Louise House of over $250,000 a year, with no clear idea on when or if the state would renew funding for Saint Louise House and other agencies that serve families in need. We are working hard with philanthropic foundations and private donors to replace the lost money, but that means we are focused on maintaining our current level of services and cannot expand to full capacity and open up our vacant units to more homeless families.
If you represent an organization that helps Texas families and children and wish to be added to our list of members, click here.
Free membership is limited to public, community-based, or faith-based organizations. Individuals wishing to become members of Texans Care are invited to support our work.