Thursday, May 30, 2013

Head Start, Sequestration, and NO state support

North Dakota is one state in about 10 that has consistently provided no state dollars to supplement federal funding of Head Start.  Subsequently, Head Start in North Dakota is 100% federally funded with a requirement of raising $1 local match for every $4 federal funding.  Federal funding has not kept pace with the consumer price index. 

For the fourth straight legislative session, the North Dakota Head Start Association worked with legislative allies in presenting a funding bill to the North Dakota legislature.  This year HB1356 proposed providing $6,175,000 for the biennium to accommodate the large waiting lists and other funding gaps for low-income children.  HB1356 was hog housed in the House education committee and turned into a early childhood interim study to be conducted by the Department of Public Instruction with no funding. Through many twists and turns during the session, the bill was defeated in the House by a vote of 34-59. The session ended, once again, without any funding for Head Start. 

photo courtesy of National Head Start Association

Meanwhile, Federal sequestration was looming and took affect on March 1, 2013, and the first rounds of cuts for Head Start will occur on July 1, 2013. The effects of sequestration on Head Starts across ND will leave behind over 160 families who currently benefit from the program.

Head Start in the state is hurting which negatively impacts the most at risk children. North Dakotans need to speak up to change this negative impact. Tell Congress and the President to end sequestration NOW. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wins in the ND 2013 Legislative Session

The longest session in history ended May 3rd in the wee hours of the morning. Two moves on the part of the legislature show a little progress from the state in enacting policy for low and moderate income individuals in ND.

Medicaid Expansion passed and the Governor signed it into law. In North Dakota, there are currently 29,000 uninsured adults who will be eligible for Medicaid under the state expanded Medicaid program. Of these, 24,000 would be newly eligible for Medicaid with the expansion, while 5,000 are eligible for the program under current rules but are not enrolled. This expanded access to coverage is surely to improve the health of North Dakotans.

The state's child care assistance program was expanded to allow subsidies up to 85% of state median income, up from 49%. This gives ND among the most generous child care subsidies program in the nation. What this means for families is greater access to affordable child care which keeps parents in the work force. The dollar amount quickly translated means a family of three making around $60,000 or below would received subsidies and require a small co-pay based on a sliding fee scale.

NDESPA partners will follow the implementation of both to see the impact in the state.

Keep up with the blog as we post more reviews through the next few weeks.