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As we have shared, the deadline for extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) came and went on September 30th. Despite historical bipartisan support for the program and concurrence on CHIP policy moving forward, disagreement on where to find the money for CHIP halted efforts to keep the program alive. Now, a growing number of states are seeing the end of their resources. 

The current situation may compel states to freeze CHIP enrollment. As Vice President Donna Cohen Ross explains, we know from past experience that the side effects of a CHIP freeze can hurt children now and into the future. Meanwhile, children are still waiting for Congress to extend CHIP funding and each day of inaction brings children and families closer to the serious health and financial risks associated with being uninsured.

Read Donna's featured post on the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF) blog now.

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Donna Cohen Ross is a vice president at CSSP  

Last month, CSSP hosted a Twitter Chat for our Fight for Our Girls initiative. The Fight for Our Girls initiative, which includes a series of issue briefs, was founded by CSSP’s Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare to radically shift the negative narrative surrounding girls of color and status offenses from a focus on delinquency and misbehavior to structural discrimination, trauma and youth well-being.

Advocates and service providers gathered together online for the Twitter chat by tweeting with the hashtags, #FFOG and #FightForOurGirls. Guided by questions and facts originating from the initiative’s latest brief, Fight for Our Girls: Applying an Intersectional Lens to Girls of Color Facing Status Offenses, participants discussed the unique needs of girls of color and worked together to envision innovative solutions. Echoed in these solutions was the importance of centering the voices of girls of color when public systems providers make decisions that affect them. Participants also agreed that girls of color are the experts when talking about their experiences with public systems. Additionally, participants commended Fight for Our Girls for examining the intersections between race, gender and sexual orientation for systems-involved girls, signifying the importance of continuing this research and dialogue.

You can view highlights of the Twitter Chat here: https://storify.com/CtrSocialPolicy/fightforourgirls-twitter-chat

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Victoria Efetevbia is a program and research assistant at CSSP.

Every November, communities of transgender individuals from across the U.S. organize awareness-raising and educational events and protests in honor of Transgender Awareness Week, which culminates in a vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). The first TDOR was held by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. TDOR has grown to memorialize all transgender and gender expansive individuals who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Annual vigils often include a reading of a list of names of the transgender and gender expansive individuals who were killed that year. The number of transgender individuals who are murdered each year continues to climb at alarming rates. HIV/AIDS continues to claim transgender lives. Public policies continue to target and disenfranchise transgender people. The transgender community is at the center of an epidemic of violence. TDOR plays an important role in raising public awareness of hate crimes against transgender individuals and the transgender community at large. TDOR also ensures that our transgender siblings are remembered in a world that tries to forget and erase them. 

This year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance reminds us of the precarious nature of transgender life. 2017 has been named as the deadliest year for transgender people ever recorded. Thus far, and with a month and a half of 2017 to go, there have been 24 murders of transgender individuals. In addition to transgender individuals being at a high risk of physical violence and death, the transgender community continues to struggle with high risks of suicide. At this time, research is unable to provide conclusive evidence as to what caused the rates of transgender homicides to increase. However, it is likely that the uptick can be partially attributed to both the seemingly positive and negative social changes occurring around us. Furthermore, it is likely the result of contributions to anti-transgender violence being made at all levels, starting with the level of the individual and reaching all the way up to the level of government and public systems. 

Unsurprisingly, anti-transgender violence is normalized through our current political climate, which is proving itself to be increasingly hostile towards the transgender community. This hostility is evident from a nearly never ending list of recent actions taken by federal, state and local-level government officials. Some recent federal actions have included President Trump’s recent speech at the 2017 Voters Values summit, which was held by the notoriously anti-LGBT Family Research Council; President Trump’s attempted ban on transgender troops; and the nomination of President Trump’s judicial nominee, Jeff Mateer, referring to transgender children as part of ‘Satan’s plan.’  

Seemingly positive social changes, such as more representation of transgender actors in mainstream television and film or the recent success of transgender candidates in electoral politics, have also had a detrimental effect on the safety of the transgender community. With more representation comes increased visibility, and with increased visibility comes escalated risks of both interpersonal and state violence for the transgender community. It has always been dangerous to be out as transgender, but in recent years, heightened levels of visibility of the transgender community has made us a target. 

Where do we go from here? Allies and advocates need to make themselves more visible. They need to step up in taking on some of the work towards transgender equality so that the transgender community can focus on their own safety and survival. There are many ways to be a visible ally so that you can help transgender people in your life and the transgender community at large. Some ideas include: 

  • Regularly checking in on the emotional well-being of the transgender people in your life. Many transgender people struggle with their mental health. Offering your support can make a difference.
  • Support transgender candidates in local elections. If this is not possible, consider running for local elections where you can implement policies that support the transgender community.
  • Ask your library to carry books on transgender issues especially in the children’s section. Some recommended books can be found here.
  • Be vocal about the importance of policies, companies and elected officials who support the transgender community. Speak out against policies, companies and elected officials who are silent on these issues or who oppose them.
  • If you are a business owner, develop a plan to make your business transgender friendly.
  • Talk to your school district officials to make school a safe place for transgender students. Assist with lobbying to change policies that are harmful to transgender students.
  • Support transgender people on social media by standing up to hateful comments, sharing resources and voicing your support during social media campaigns. The more visible and vocal allies are in supporting and uplifting transgender people, the more likely it is that transgender people will feel empowered to tell their stories.
  • Consider donating to LGBT Centers that provide assistance to transgender youth, such as housing, clothing, meals and mental health services.
  • As winter approaches, take action to support homeless transgender youth and adults.
  • Show up to protests, vigils, fundraisers and other events to show your support for the transgender community.
  • Never stop educating yourself on issues and experiences of communities that face systemic violence. 

If allies take action to protect, support and empower the transgender community, transgender individuals have a greater chance at surviving 2018. 

Transgender Day of Remembrance takes place annually on November 20th. 

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Erika Feinman is a program and research assistant at CSSP.

Throughout our history, immigration policy in the U.S. has been notoriously ambiguous and largely shaped by race and/or ethnicity. Early immigration to the U.S. was greatly encouraged as it helped alter the racial composition of the country – diminishing the number of Native/Indigenous people who were already here and later seeking to suppress the rate of enslaved population growth amongst those who were forced to migrate as a means of free labor.

Despite the racist policies that served to quell the population growth of people of color, today nearly half of all children under the age of 18 are children of color. In addition, one in four children growing up in the U.S. lives in an immigrant family (having been born outside of the U.S. themselves or living with at least one parent born outside of the U.S). While the history of racist policies still impacts our country today, current public policies also pose a problem – still too often serving as barriers for children and families of color. It is important for policy to begin to build meaningful opportunities for all children and families. Policy options like reducing the current refundability threshold of the Child Tax Credit or extending TANF benefit eligibility to immigrant parents are some of the many ways that policymakers could begin to better address families’ needs. This is critical not just for the experiences of communities of color – but for U.S. growth and prosperity as a whole. 

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation Race for Results 2017 Policy Report: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children 

The 2017 KIDS COUNT Policy Report Race for Results, Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children from the Annie E. Casey Foundation includes detailed information on the experiences of children of color in the United States. The report includes rankings for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico on 12 indicators of child well-being that fall into four groups: early childhood, education and early work experiences, family resources and neighborhood context. Overall findings from the report reveal gains over the last few years but also demonstrate how well-being and opportunity are still not evenly distributed. Specifically, while no one racial or ethnic group of children is meeting all milestones in the index, it shows that African-American, Native American and Hispanic/Latino children continue to face the greatest barriers to opportunity and success.

The report urges policymakers to continue making targeted investments that help children become healthier, more likely to complete high school and better positioned to contribute to the nation’s economy as adults. In addition, the report also recognizes the growing number of children from immigrant families living in the U.S. and makes the case for continued investments aimed at addressing their unique needs – such as increasing economic opportunities for immigrant parents. 

Today, children growing up in the U.S. are more diverse than ever. Public policies should celebrate this diversity and capitalize on all of the incredible societal benefits that it offers. Public policy is a critical tool in working to ensure that those who have been most impacted by systemic and institutional racism have access to the resources and opportunities needed to actualize their success. Ensuring that every child in the U.S. is healthy and supported is the first step to doing this. It’s also the first step in becoming more competitive in an increasingly global economy. Policymaking focused on equity is the right thing to do – it’s also the smart thing.

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Rhiannon Reeves is a policy analyst at CSSP.

Proposed Tax Bill Takes a Cut at Children

  ·   By Alexandra Citrin

On November 2, 2017, Representative Brady (R-TX) introduced the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R.1), a tax reform plan which includes significant changes to the current tax code. The proposed bill includes several provisions that, if passed, would undermine the well-being of large numbers of children and families across the country. The tax bill’s provisions acutely affect low-wage working parents and strike a particularly hard blow to the U.S. citizen children of immigrant parents.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act shamefully denies access to important tax credits for children who would otherwise be eligible by changing the filing requirements for their parents. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) would be unreachable for children in immigrant families whose parents currently do not have Social Security numbers but pay federal income taxes through the use of an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The bill also restricts college students with an ITIN from accessing the refundable portion of the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) by now requiring them to have a Social Security number.

For immigrants, many of whom are in the U.S. legally,[i] the ITIN is a tax processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service that allows individuals without a Social Security number to file federal income taxes. Filing taxes with an ITIN supports immigrant working parents to pay taxes that would otherwise not be captured by the tax system and utilize the tax credits that they are legally authorized to access, like the CTC. The CTC is an important means for lifting children and families out of poverty, helping to lift approximately 2.7 million people – including 1.5 million children – out of poverty in 2016. Denying tax-paying immigrant and mixed-status families access to this critical support, would have a negative impact on the health, development and well-being of over 5 million children – 80 percent of whom are U.S. citizens and an additional 1 million DREAMers.

The AOTC is a key support intended to off-set the high cost for young adults pursuing secondary education. The current AOTC provides a minimal – yet significant – support to ITIN holders and other low-income students. Denying access to the AOTC has to the potential to limit a young adult’s ability to continue their education and increase future wages. This would have a lasting impact on their ability to gain the skills and credentials necessary for their full participation in meaningful work and ultimately their contributions to our nation’s economic growth. 

In addition to the provisions aimed specifically at limiting immigrant families’ access to tax credits, the bill includes several other provisions that are harmful to low-income children and their parents.[ii] For example, the bill excludes many low-income working families – including approximately 10 million children – from accessing the CTC altogether while simultaneously expanding eligibility for higher-income families with incomes up to $300,000. The bill also eliminates the adoption tax credit for families that adopt a child, eliminates teachers’ ability to deduct the cost of purchasing supplies for their classrooms and ends the ability for working adults to deduct interest on student loan debt. 

The health of our country depends on every child, young adult and family being able to meet their needs and plan for their future. Attempts to use the goal of tax reform to restrict the ability for immigrants to achieve these goals will have a significant and negative impact on their families, including U.S. citizen children, and on all communities across the country. Rather than attacking and undermining the health, well-being and economic security of children of immigrant parents, any future proposals to the modify tax code should identify and promote opportunities to ensure that all children and working families are able to benefit from the tax programs meant to support their economic security – particularly for families working in low-wage jobs. Promoting these values is central to who we are as a country.

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Alexandra Citrin is a senior policy analyst at CSSP.


[i] ITIN-filers include both documented and undocumented immigrants. Many ITIN-filers are in the United States legally but do not qualify for a Social Security number. For the many ITIN-filers
who are parents of U.S. citizen children, tax credits are the only form of public benefit for which they are eligible because of their immigration status.

[ii] Additionally, the proposed tax cuts would also lead to an even greater impact on low-income children and families as a result of the pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rule, which requires the President and Congress to offset a tax cut with a compensating tax increase or entitlement cut with any failure to do so triggering an automatic spending cut. While the President and Congress could prevent these automatic cuts by waiving PAYGO, the impact of the proposed tax cuts remains the same with a decrease in federal revenue, policymakers will be forced to make difficult decisions about budget expenses including key entitlement programs that benefit all those living in the U.S. Key programs that would be subject to PAYGO include the Social Services Block Grant, Operations and Support for Citizenship Immigration Services, Crime Victims Fund payments to states and child nutrition programs – all of which are critical to promoting the health and well-being of children and families, particularly those who are living below and near the federal poverty level. 

 
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