Tag: SNAP


New York Finalizes $153.1 Billion Budget


Below is a brief overview of some key provisions in New York State’s 2017-2018 Budget that may have an impact on the health and well-being of Long Islanders, especially those living in poverty.

 

Free College Tuition

New York students from families making less than $100,000 a year (which will increase to $125,000 per year by 2019) will be eligible for free tuition at SUNY or CUNY schools under the “Excelsior Scholarship.” The initiative won’t cover room and board and students will have to meet residency, grade point, and class load rules to participate. The program will be phased in over three years and also sets aside $19 million for tuition aid for students attending private colleges. Upon graduating, recipients will have to live and work in New York for several years or the grants will be converted into loans. The state estimates nearly 113,000 families with college age students (55%) on Long Island would be eligible for this program.

 

Community Health Advocates

The CHA program received $3.5 million in funding, which was less than the requested $4.75 million, but more than was allocated in last year’s budget. The Community Health Advocates network provides critical consumers assistance and counseling related to obtaining, utilizing, and resolving issues with all types of health insurance coverage. HWCLI, as well as other Long Island non-profits, has provided services through the CHA network for over 5 years and appreciates NYSDOH’s on-going support in assisting low-income and vulnerable families with navigating health insurance.

 

Legal Aid for Immigrants

The budget includes $10 million for immigrant legal aid efforts, with $4 million set aside specifically to assist New York immigrants at risk for deportation. The funding includes money for the Vera Institute of Justice as well as the New York Immigration Coalition, Empire Justice Center, Northern Manhattan Immigration Coalition for Immigrant Rights, the Hispanic Federation and Catholic Charities Community Services. HWCLI applauds the State for providing additional funding for much needed legal services for this extremely vulnerable group. Since 2014, more than 7,800 children have arrived on Long Island from Central and South America to reunite with family after crossing into the United States. To coordinate and convene the work of agencies assisting recently arrived children, HWCLI facilitates efforts between legal, education and social service agencies to provide integrated services, collaborate on advocacy, share best practices, and leverage limited resources- including legal supports and services.

 

Child Care Tax Credit

The final budget amends New York State’s child and dependent care tax credit to increase the tax credit for families earning between $60,000 and $150,000 per year. The benefit for the average household will increase from $169 to $376 and assist more than 200,000 families in offsetting the costs of child and dependent care.

 

Essential Plan

Premiums and co-payments will not increase for those enrolled in the Essential Plan with incomes between 138-150% of FPL as initially proposed by the Governor in the Executive budget. This proposal would have placed additional financial burden on low-income individuals and households making between $16,643 and $18,090 for a household of 1 and between $33,948 and $36,900 for a family of 4.

 

Child Care Subsidies

The final budget cuts funding for child care subsidies for low-income families with incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level by $7 million. Currently, 83% of eligible families do not have access to these subsidies because of inadequate funds. It is estimated that the cut will result in an additional 900 families losing their child care subsidy.

 

Enhanced Safety Net Hospitals

The budget allocates $20 million over 2 years to enhanced safety net hospitals, a new category of hospitals that serve low-income New Yorkers. To meet the new criteria, hospitals must show that in any of the last three years at least 50 percent of their patients were uninsured or on Medicaid, at least 40 percent of inpatient discharges were billed to Medicaid and no more than 25 percent of patients had commercial insurance.

 

Farm to Foodbank

The budget includes a new tax credit for farmers who donate fruits, vegetables, and other farm products to local Food Banks- the credit is limited to $5,000 per year but will help farmers offset the harvesting and transportation costs of moving surplus crops that might otherwise go to waste.

 

Click here to read the entire budget.

 

 


HWCLI is hiring! Outreach Specialist


The Health & Welfare Council of Long Island is hiring! 

Job Title: Outreach Specialist

HWCLI seeks an energetic, passionate and socially conscious individual to plan and coordinate outreach and advocacy for Long Island’s vulnerable and at-risk, including recently arrived immigrants. The position includes working directly with agency partners and school districts to foster partnerships as well as working directly with community members to educate and empower them. Specifically, the position provides education and application assistance related to health and nutrition supports.

To view the job description as a PDF, click here.

To apply, please send cover letter and resume to jobs@hwcli.com

 

Responsibilities:

• Partner with key community stakeholders, such as other human service agencies, school districts, pediatricians and other health care providers to create referral systems to connect clients with services

• Plan, coordinate and conduct presentations and workshops targeting school districts and community locations where community members feel safe and have a trusted relationship

• Assist with an active, committed coalition of agencies looking to address needs of recently arrived immigrants

• Assist clients with SNAP (food stamps) information, prescreening and application assistance

• Assist clients with accessing health care information and resources

• Through direct client interaction, inform HWCLI’s advocacy and policy work

 

Key Skill Sets and Requirements:

• Strong commitment to social justice and HWCLI’s mission

• Strong communication and facilitation skills

• High energy, team player

• Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail

• Strong interpersonal skills

• Excellent written and oral communication skills

• The ability to juggle multiple tasks at the same time

• Comfortable working with diverse communities and individuals

• Computer Skills

• Minimum of B.A. or B.S. degree. Significant work experience required

• Vehicle required for travel throughout Long Island

• Must be able to work evenings and weekends

• Bi-lingual (English/Spanish) required

• Attend any regularly scheduled sessions for program information, updates, ongoing training and technical support.

• Maintain expertise in eligibility and program specifications

 

The Health & Welfare Council of Long Island is an equal opportunity employer.

 


A Message from HWCLI’s Board Chair, Bob Detor


It is with mixed feelings that I write to announce Gwen O’Shea’s departure from the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island.

Fifteen years ago this month, Gwen O’Shea joined the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island. Ten years ago this year, she was selected as its President/CEO.  During her tenure, she expanded and diversified the organization’s revenue infrastructure.  She reshaped the organization’s governance structure, by-laws, and mission to achieve greater efficiency, transparency, and enhanced active community partnerships.

Gwen oversaw the establishment of the Unmet Needs Roundtable after the Economic Downturn in 2007/2008, Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.  This effort brought more than $10 million in financial support to Long Island individuals and families struggling with their disaster recovery.

During these responses and other initiatives, her work with community partners and government officials at the local, State and Federal level, ensured the voices and concerns of those most at-risk were heard.

I think anyone who has worked with Gwen has found her to be dedicated to the mission, professional and a tenacious advocate for Long Island’s most vulnerable and at-risk.

Gwen’s leadership has been a great benefit to this organization and, undeniably, she will be deeply missed here.

Gwen’s last day with the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island will be on Friday, March 24th.

We will begin the search for her replacement over the next few weeks. Please click here for a copy of the position profile.

On behalf of HWCLI’s Board of Directors, please join me in thanking Gwen for her caring service and wishing her all the best as she assumes her new position as President/CEO of CDCLI, a long-standing partner of HWCLI and a critical part of the Long Island community.


Lifting Millions Out of Poverty: SNAP Works


In 2015, 13 million children lived in families that had trouble putting food on the table. According to a report done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the development, health and well-being of children depend on access to a safe and secure source of food. Poverty and extreme poverty during childhood show especially detrimental outcomes, increasing children’s chances of cognitive and behavioral problems when they reach adulthood.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has helped lift millions out of poverty and deep poverty with the modest benefit of just $1.35 on average per person per meal for households with children. This year SNAP will help about 20 million children, or one-fourth of all U.S. children, receive the nutrition that they need to improve food security, and contribute to better health and academic achievement.

SNAP is the nation’s largest nutrition program providing around $30 billion in nutrition benefits over the course of this year and reaches more at-risk children than any other nutrition or income assistance program. Research shows that SNAP can have significant impacts on children:

  • SNAP kept about 10.3 million people out of poverty in 2012, including about 4.9 million children.  SNAP lifted 2.1 million children out of deep poverty (defined as 50 percent of the poverty line), which is more than any other government assistance program.
  • An adequate, healthy diet during childhood is critical for school success. SNAP participation can lead to improvement in reading and math skills and help with memory and behavior as well. SNAP also helps families during the summer months when children are less likely to have access to the free meal programs they receive during the school year.
  • Mothers exposed to SNAP were less likely to give birth to low-weight babies. Some evidence also suggests that children receiving SNAP are less likely to be in fair or poor health compared to low-income non-participants.

With SNAP’s ability to lift families out of poverty, studies show that half of all families with children leave SNAP within the first year of entering. Food insecurity among children enrolled in SNAP fell by roughly a third after their families received SNAP benefits for six months.

Although the numbers of households struggling with poverty and food insecurity are still high, SNAP has significantly impacted food insecure Americans. The CBPP says, “Efforts to reform or enhance SNAP should build on its effectiveness in protecting the well-being of America’s children, and preserve the essential program features that contribute to that success.”

For more information, read the full report SNAP Works for America from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


Teen Food Insecurity


An estimated 6.8 million young people ages 10 to 17 struggle to have enough to eat, including 2.9 million who have very low food security. Urban Institute and Feeding America spent 3 years conducting focus groups with teenagers in 10 communities in an effort to get a more complete picture about how food insecurity impacts teenagers. They found that food insecure teenagers face impossible choices- often engaging in risky behavior just to survive.

During the focus groups, teens were asked questions about their observations of teen food insecurity in their communities, how young people get food, and risky behaviors, such as stealing or dealing drugs that teens may resort to during times of desperation. Several common themes emerged from the focus groups discussions:

  • Teen food insecurity is widespread. Even teens that were not experiencing food insecurity themselves were aware of other teens that were.
  • Teens fear the stigma associated with food insecurity and needing assistance. They may be less likely to access resources.
  • Teens with younger siblings often take on the role of parent for younger siblings, ensuring they have enough to eat first and putting themselves second. Teens are often more aware of parent’s struggles with money and food insecurity than younger children.
  • Teens faced with acute food insecurity reported sometimes engaging in criminal behavior such as stealing food, dealing drugs or reselling stolen items to make money.

It’s clear from the data collected in the focus groups that teen food insecurity is a multi-faceted issue that requires adding supports in multiple areas. Many nutrition programs focus on younger children so more emphasis should be placed on engaging teens in these programs, especially school meal programs. More employment options are also needed to provide teens with a way of earning money. Teens in the focus group indicated they would be glad to work but job opportunities are limited in their communities. Teens should be empowered and engaged to create programs for their communities. As a result of a focus group in Portland, a youth empowerment group is designing programming for teens in their own community.  Addressing food insecurity in teens is clearly a challenge, but it’s clear that steps must be taken to provide further supports to this vulnerable population.

For more information, read the full report, Impossible Choices, from Urban Institute and Feeding America


Study: Children with SSI more likely to be food insecure


High medical costs associated with raising children with disabilities or special health care needs (SHCN) can drain a household’s budget and force families to struggle with providing even those most basic necessities. For households with particularly low incomes and almost no assets, federal disability benefits (SSI) can help offset the cost of care for these children with SHCN. However, research from Children’s HealthWatch shows that families with children with SHCN are at the highest risk for food insecurity even if they are receiving SSI. Families of children receiving SSI face hardships in finding jobs with adequate wages that enable them to care for their child and frequently do not have the ability to build assets that could help protect from sudden economic shocks. While many families with children receiving SSI may also receive SNAP benefits, SSI often reduces the SNAP benefit amount because it is countable household income. SNAP benefits are also not adequate to purchase an ordinary diet and may be depleted even faster for households with children with specific dietary needs.

Children’s HealthWatch recommends the following policy changes to support children with SHCN receiving SSI

  1. Sustain SSI benefit levels to ensure children with special health care needs continue to receive support to offset the cost of their medical care and needs.
  2. Modify the asset limit of $3,000 per household so families have the ability to save money that can help absorb sudden financial hardships or allow them to better stabilize themselves financially.
  3. Partially exclude SSI benefits from SNAP benefits calculations so families are able to receive more nutritional assistance.
  4. Simplify the verification process for the medical expense deduction for SNAP so more households are able to take advantage of this deduction. Families with disabled members can deduct medical expenses over $35 per month which can increase benefit amounts.

SSI is a critical resource that helps low income families with children with disabilities or special health care needs but it is often not enough to ensure access to basic necessities. Ensuring that benefits amounts provide enough resources for families is essential to helping these vulnerable families and children. SNAP policies should also be updated to ensure families already at risk for food insecurity are able to meet their nutritional needs and those of their children.