KACAP Recommends

The toolkits located HERE each contain a set of resources to help local communities begin or enhance their efforts to prevent and end homelessness.

There are many perspectives on the answer to that question. Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that childhood poverty leads to adult poor health through epigenetics, toxic stress, and the cycle of chronic disease, including obesity.

Of course, poverty and health problems are locked in a vicious tug of war. Without a full-time job, you often can't get health insurance. Without health insurance, no regular care or therapy that might aid employment. Without income, you face shortfalls and stresses that contribute to health problems.

On the topic of stress, scientists have long recognized that poverty can aggravate health problems. Now they're also beginning to understand that the stress of too little income actually changes the way people think.

Another perspective is that the foods that are most affordable are also the most dangerous. A study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that smart SNAP policy can improve health outcomes. While The Health Food Access Portal believes that to increase nutrition in a community is to build a stronger community. It is a great resources for innovation and research. 

Addressing issues like hunger, housing and education can have more of an impact on people’s health than the traditional medical services hospitals deliver. This piece from USA today explores the implications when select hospitals began screening for food insecurity. And in Canada, health researchers are calling on physicians to consider poverty a root cause of many symptoms. 

Another perspective is that a growing gap in smoking rates between rich and poor is helping drive inequality in health outcomes. For example, white women on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder now living shorter lives, specifically because of poverty and smoking. Read more.

At KACAP, we strive to be your portal to the best resources and research in the fight against poverty. Here is where we provide our favorite insights into the struggle to address the causes and conditions of poverty.

 

At least 21 million people—8 million workers and their families—rely on low-wage jobs in the federally-supported economy, that is, jobs with firms that receive a significant portion of their revenue from federal funds. DEMOS is doing a series of research papers that explore how a redesign of this system could bring 20 MILLION people into the middle class. Read More Here.

The 2012 poverty rate for American Indians and Alaska Natives was one of the highest in the country at 29.1 percent, compared to 15.9 percent for the overall population. If this fact shocks you as it did us, read the new report from Half In Ten.

At KACAP, we see the negative impact of Kansas’ severe dental shortage and recognize that this is a particular problem for low‐income people. That’s why we are a part of the Kansas Dental Project’s coalition to support a REGISTERED DENTAL PRACTITIONER designation by our state legislature.


RDPs are like the Registered Nurse Practitioner in your doctor’s office. They can see clients and perform a limited scope of important services. In fact, by employing just one RDP, a dental practice will be able to schedule 2,000 to 3,000 more appointments annually and patients will experience shorter wait times for care. Right now, 95 of Kansas’ 105 counties don’t have enough dental providers. Thirteen counties don’t have any dentists at all. RDPs can help expand a dentist’s practice and reach out to communities where the needs are the greatest. In 2010, more than 17,500 emergency room visits were reported by Kansas hospitals for dental care – the number one reason was cavities. Allowing RDPs to work in Kansas will help to lessen ER usage for dental care, reducing costs for patients and hospitals.

Learn more about supporting RDP’s, and a really important community advocate meeting in Topeka on October 16, at www.kansasdental.com.

The Community Action Agencies of Kansas, and America, have the tools, programs, and services to help people help themselves and each other. But to TRULY change the nature and dynamic of our system, we are counting on YOU to play your part. Fortunately, many of our partnering organizations have developed guidelines, recommendations, and action plans that can serve as a reference for your efforts. 

The Center for Hunger Free Communities has polled the Witnesses to Hunger to publish these RECOMMENDATIONS.

Thanks to a survey from the Wall Street Journal, we now know that Americans are (finally) as likely to blame poverty on circumstances beyond people’s control than they are to believe the poor aren’t doing enough to dig themselves out of it. This is a major swing in public opinion, and a strong sign that more advocates will come together to fix the broken pieces of our economic system. 

As advocates, now is the time to press forward to eliminate poverty for the future generations. Community Action has long believed that one of the best ways to invest in children, is to invest in their families, and more research has arrived to support that claim. The news from Johns Hopkins is that our current housing crisis is having a direct impact on the cognitive ability of our nation's youth.  From the Report: 

“Families spending about 30 percent of their income on housing had children with the best cognitive outcomes,” said Newman, who is also director of the university’s Center on Housing, Neighborhoods and Communities. “It’s worse when you pay too little and worse when you pay too much.”

Read the full report here

Of course, the negative impact of poverty on childhood development doesn't stop at just housing issues. Just the fact that parents struggling with poverty have less TIME to spend with their children has a dramatic affect. Supplementing the Community Action ideal that investing in families NOW means protecting children LATER, researchers Greg J. Duncan, Katherine Magnuson, and Elizabeth Votruba-Drza have developed a model that shows that Boosting Family Income will Promote a Child's Development.

 

It would be amusing to see a Kansas City report published in a Californian newspaper, if the news wasn't so disheartening. Experts now believe meaningful mobility may be dangerously close to disappearing entirely. A wealth gap so stagnant that our culture is more like feudal Europe than can-do America.

The film, Inequality for All, is a plea for the Middle Class and a cry against the ever growing wage gaps in this country from Robert Reich. In the film, they propose 6 methods to improving our economy, and by extension, cutting poverty. Learn more about the film at http://inequalityforall.com

Films like this are more important as we consider the impact economic inequality has on our nation's children. Today, income is a STRONGER predictor than race in regards to predicting a child's success in school. 

If the concept of wealth inequality is new to you, visit http://wealthinequality.org/Home_Page.html   OR  http://inequality.is/real  for a concise overview.

Of course in May, we had official reports that unemployment is at its lowest in years, and private sector jobs are back at pre-recession levels. However, new research from the National Employment Law Project shows us that most of these new jobs are low-wage, adding another nail to the proverbial coffin of the middle class.  Further, research from the Institute for Research on Poverty suggests the lower your education level, the more unstable your employment is. 

At KACAP, we strive to be your portal to the best resources and research in the fight against poverty. Here is where we provide our favorite insights into the struggle to address the causes and conditions of poverty.

First we present a problem and a possible solution. NPR did explored how the increase in the lack of affordable housing is a cause of poverty, and not a symptom of the impact of those in it. Meanwhile, KACAP favorite NationSwell explored 7 different interpretations of the Tiny House movement, and how they are making impacts on diverse communities. 

Community Action and Legal Services were both born in the War On Poverty, and KACAP has long been a proud partner of Kansas Legal Services. That's why we were excited to read the new TalkPoverty piece on Legal Aid as a poverty solution. 

And, for the first time, more than half of the members of Congress are millionaires. The Atlantic Magazine explored what that means to those of us who fight poverty for a living


An organization called Raising the Roof has as its challenge: "You see an abandoned chair on the street, and you you think, 'It has the potential to be something beautiful.' You see a homeless youth on the street and you think, 'Don't make eye contact.' " 

 

The KACAP team encourages everyone, including ourselves to rise to that challenge. 

Recent "popular" research has told us that being "hangry" - the increase of negative emotions like anger because of hunger - is a real condition or state of being. This of course has implications for children and families dealing with food insecurity. 

For instance, a study from the American Society for Nutrition found that reducing a family's food insecurity FIRST does, in fact, lead the way to improved economic security. Read the full longitudinal work HERE.

Meanwhile, the restaurant industry continues to be a Billion Dollar industry, on the shoulders of our love for food, and on the backs of tipped workers. Congress hasn’t raised the federal minimum for tipped workers, currently $2.13, in more than 20 years. The economic impact of this can be felt in all sectors, but might also explain why your server is acting a bit "hangry." Read more from PEW about the Tipped Wage Debate HERE

FROM APRIL:
Positive Publisher NationSWELL explores Community Land Trusts as a solution to homelessness, while The Atlantic explores the unexpected sector of the community of working poor professionals that are Adjunct College Professors

FROM DECEMBER:
The Standford Center on Poverty and Inequality has published the first draft of research from NYU on the Inter-generational Aspects of Social Mobility. While the most data heavy of the three, it analyzes such diverse factors as gender or the impact of siblings on social mobility. 

NEW, And equally notable, The Paul G. Allen Foundation has published its research on asset development as a path to civic engagement in the poverty-fighting process. They titled this report, Disrupting Poverty.

FROM NOVEMBER:

The National Women's Law Center presents Insecure and Unequal: A detailed look at the impact of poverty on women and families over the past 12 years. 

The US Conference of Mayors released their Hunger and Homelessness Survey: This 25 city survey found continuing increases in demand for services and continuing shortfalls in meeting service needs.

 

Over 1/3 of the Minimum Wage work force in America is made up of women OVER the age of 25. Surprised? So are a lot of people. MSNBC produced an insightful piece about the myths that surround those who make that Federally mandated $7.25. It's these myths that can make the #raisethewage debate, as we call it on Twitter, so complicated.

Once you tackle the myths, there are truly solid economic arguments both for AND against an increase. You could go read the published findings in a lot of academic journals, but for a fun, accurate, and surprisingly succinct overview, try this video from Upworthy. Tackling the data does not have to be overwhelming, as these economists from Seattle show you with their research into the impact of a raised minimum wage on the restaurant industry.

Now, if you're ready to take a side and take a stand, our friends at the Half In Ten Campaign have put together an action tool kit that provides several resources to help you engage the media, other advocates, and your elected officials regarding minimum wage issue. Read more and see the full arsenal of information HERE.

KACAP has been a proud part of the #TalkPoverty movement since its inception. The goal is to get communities, and yes, politicians and policy makers, to talk about poverty and its impact on our communities. 

However, researchers have discovered a Word Gap between children of economically secure and low-income families. This investigation from NPR explores whether or not talking itself could be a pathway out of poverty.

UPDATE JUNE 2014: The organization Too Small to Fail, has taken up the banner of fighting the Word Gap, and they have some powerful, BI-PARTISAN, support to do it. Read More.

The numbers are in, and because of the impacts of Sequestration:

  • 70,000 FEWER families will receive Housing Assistance
  • 300,000 Poor Families will be cut from the roster of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
  • 57,000 children will NOT have a chair, crib, or space in their local Head Start program. 
  • And sequestration will only get worse in 2014. 

Thousands of communities that will NOT benefit from the strength of these households untapped potential. There were dozens of reaction and policy statements, but KACAP recommends the one that clearly put the lives of children in the context of the world they will grow up in, and reminds us of the Promise of Community Action: 

From Fareed Zakaria op-ed for the Washington Post, "In any event, what’s apparent is that countries — and most parts of the United States — that invest heavily in all their children’s health care, nutrition and education end up with a much stronger ladder of opportunity and access." 

Sequestration is yet another result of the lagging economy brought on by the Great Recession. The Stanford Center for Poverty and Inequality and the Coalition on Human needs have both collate a website of resources and research to help understand economic trends of the last 6 years and the direct impact of the Sequester on people like you and me. KACAP recommends you visit Recession Trends and Impact Updates, respectively. 

Kansans pay taxes and expect something back in return. Like health care and financial security.
A report from the University of Michigan National Poverty Center reads, "The annual receipt of large tax refunds, primarily due to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), provides families with an unusual opportunity to save and build assets... fueled by the expectation of ongoing annual tax refunds." 

The EITC is an excellent poverty deterrent. Learn more about this research HERE. Or, see YOUR state's EITC participation rate HERE.

And this data is sinking in at every level. President Obama recently urged for an expansion of this important effort, and Paul Ryan recently praised the effectiveness of the EITC as well. But it is important to remember that ONE tax credit does not an ENTIRE safety net make. 

For the continental United States, the federal poverty level rose slightly from the last year to $11,670 for a single person. That is 1.6 percent higher than in 2013. A family of four this year will be considered impoverished if it earns $23,850 or less.The 2014 poverty level is slightly higher in Hawaii — $13,420 for a single person and $27,430 for a family of four — and in Alaska, where the level is $14,580 for one person and $29,820 for a family of four.

The government said the increase in the federal poverty level was due to a 1.5 percent price increase between 2012 and 2013. Further adjustments were made to standardize the differences between family sizes.

See the full layout of the guidelines here.

On January 8th, Community Action, as a National Network, celebrated its 50th Anniversary. 

In many ways, we know that the War on Poverty declared by President Johnson has been successful: we have fewer seniors in poverty and more children with access to education. Every time we see a family save for the future, read together, improve their home or their neighborhood, we know that we are winning the war for those people. 

However, over the past 50 years, the American economy has faced challenges and obstacles LBJ could have never predicted. Even though we measure poverty THE SAME WAY; Gas is now $3 a gallon; a Full-Time minimum wage job will not lift a family of three out of poverty; student debt can now follow an adult through their retirement; and for every open full-time job available, there are 3.1 unemployed adults. But in the face of all this, successful programs like SNAP, TANF, Unemployment Insurance and the Earned Income Tax Credit are under scrutiny and attach. 

It forces the question: Has the War on Poverty become a War on the Poor? 

To add to that debate, KACAP has collated the opinion and editorial pieces from The Hill, The Huffington Post, The New York TimesThe National Journal and the Non-Profit Quarterly.

1/23/14 UPDATE:  In the wake of various celebrations and observations of the 50th Anniversary of the (American) War on Poverty, many continue to ponder how that battle will be won or lost. In the Global battle against poverty, after Bono and the ONE Campaign, there is no great champion for our future than the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The annual letter from that campaign addresses 3 common myths about poverty, motivated by the realization that, as Bill himself writes, "The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful." Read the letter here.