U.S. Poverty Weekly Update May 29, 2012
I urge all members of Congress to weigh carefully the balance of billionaires to poor. Do no harm.
— Marian Lyddon, RESULTS Des Moines group member in a May 25 letter to the editor in the Des Moines Register
New and Urgent in This Week’s Update (Two-Ten-Twenty Actions)
- Got Two Minutes? RESULTS Volunteers Generating Media — Keep It Up! (May Action)
- Got Ten Minutes? Use Senate Recess to Put Child Care on the Map
- Got Twenty Minutes? Call Senate Aides about Protecting SNAP in the Farm Bill
Latest from Washington, DC
- Fundraising News
- RESULTS International Conference
- RESULTS Activity Calendar
- RESULTS Contact Information
RESULTS groups have taken on the May Action with gusto, already getting seven letters to the editor published in just 16 days. Congratulations to the groups and individuals in Salina (KS), Austin, Contra Costa (CA), Des Moines (which got two letters in the same day), Stamford (CT), and St. Louis who have gotten their letters published. We also congratulate and encourage everyone else who has submitted letters this month. Keep it up! With senators home on recess this week, continue sending a strong message that congressional efforts to shred the social safety net are not popular at home.
TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to send a letter to the editor using our quick and easy online media alert. See the May Action for more details and talking points to help with your letters. Tell lawmakers that asking low-income families to sacrifice food on the table to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy is wrong. Be sure to personalize your letter by sharing your own story and by calling your House and Senate members by name in your letter. For additional resources on the May Action, download the PowerPoint presentation from our May national conference.
The House returns to Washington this week as Senators are home for a week-long recess. This recess is a great opportunity to meet and talk with senators about putting child care on the map. We need to remind members of Congress that access to quality early childhood development programs is central to any effort in order to break the cycle of poverty. And this week’s recess is good timing. The Senate Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee, which oversees funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Head Start, and Early Head Start, is expected to begin work on their FY 2013 Labor-HHS bill in June. Use this time to remind senators that quality, affordable child care helps parents work while providing children a safe, nurturing environment for them to grow.
Contact your local senate offices to find out if your senators are holding any town halls or public events you can attend this week. See these tips online and a short “laser talk” that you can adapt to ask a question in this setting. Also, be sure to follow up on your face-to-face meeting requests to see if you can get a meeting with your representatives and senators during upcoming recesses. The House will again be on recess June 9-17 and June 30-July 8; the Senate will be on recess again July 2-8. Contact their offices to set up a meeting during these recesses. See our tips on organizing a great meeting, our template for requesting a meeting, and district office phone numbers and addresses online. Remember, 97 percent of Congressional aides say constituent meetings are the most effective way to influence a representative’s/senator’s decision.
TAKE ACTION: Take ten minutes to Put Child Care on the Map by attending a town hall meeting or candidate appearance and ask a question about child care when they’re talking about jobs or education or families. In your questions, be sure to urge your senators to tell Labor-HHS subcommittee members to support an $825 million increase for CCDBG in the FY 2013 budget, as well as a $325 million increase for Head Start and Early Head Start.
Once you’ve attended a town hall or met with a members of Congress about putting child care on the map, keep the drum beat going by taking these other actions:
- Host your Member of Congress to visit a local child care program.Here’s a toolkit with easy steps.
- Write a letter to the editor of the local paper using our online alert, and see our Activist Toolkit pieces on writing a letter to the editor and generating an op-ed for tips.
- Organize an effort to send local parents to work wearing “I’m at work because I have child care” stickers – take pictures and alert the media. Here’s a template made with standard labels!
- Host an early childhood conference or training this year? Set up a table for conference attendees to “take action” – using a computer to email Members of Congress using our alert or have people hand-write letters with our action sheet (Word).
The Senate could begin debating the 2012 Farm Bill as soon as next week. The Farm Bill is a huge piece of legislation passed every five or six years that essentially sets U.S. agriculture policy for that period of time. It includes “titles” that cover everything from farm subsidies, conservation, rural development, trade, and energy. The largest portion of the Farm Bill is the nutrition title, which includes the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), school meal programs, and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). RESULTS successfully lobbied Congress to protect and strengthen SNAP and other nutrition programs as part of 2008 Farm Bill, which included nearly $8 billion in new funding for SNAP over ten years. That law is set to expire later this year, so Congress must either pass a new Farm Bill this year or extend the current law until a new one is passed.
Although not a major campaign for RESULTS in 2012, we recognize the enormous importance of nutrition assistance, particularly SNAP, in helping low-income Americans put food on the table. That is why we have been engaging volunteers to push back against House and Senate attempts to cut SNAP. While the House SNAP cuts are far more egregious ($134 billion in proposed cuts, $36 billion in cuts passed), we are also concerned with the Senate proposed Farm Bill that cuts over $4 billion from SNAP over the next ten years. The Senate Agriculture Committee passed their proposed 2012 Farm Bill out of committee on April 26. It now goes to the Senate floor for debate, which is expected to begin in June.
Fortunately, there is support among some senators to avoid these cuts. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is sponsoring an amendment to restore the $4 billion in SNAP cuts. RESULTS strongly supports Sen. Gillibrand’s amendment and urges senators to vote in favor of it if and when it comes up for a vote. As the Senate Farm Bill debate approaches, we want to start building support for the Gillibrand amendment now with calls to Senate aides.
TAKE ACTION: Take twenty minutes to contact agriculture aides from both your Senate offices. You can find their names and contact information on the Elected Officials page of the RESULTS website. When calling, tell them you want to talk about the upcoming Farm Bill, particularly about protecting SNAP. Tell them that Sen. Gillibrand of New York will be offering an amendment to restore $4 billion in SNAP cuts in the bill and that you want your senator to support that amendment. Also ask the aide to tell your senator to oppose any other amendments that would cut SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs. Here are a few facts about SNAP to help in your conversations:
- SNAP currently serves more than 46 million per month, half of them children.
- SNAP has been very effective in helping low-income families during the Great Recession; it lifted 4 million people out of poverty in 2010
- For many low-income Americans, SNAP is the only form of assistance they are eligible to receive
- SNAP benefits are very modest, about $1.50 per meal per person; this will drop to $1.30 per meal in 2013
- SNAP enrollment will decrease as the economy strengthens, just as it is designed to
We have created a new resource that can also provide you talking points for these conversations. Although designed to inspire editorials, our SNAP Editorial Memo is also helpful for conversations with congressional aides.
In these tough economic times, unemployment takes its toll on the whole family. In a recent study done by MDRC entitled “What Strategies Work for the Hard-to-Employ?”, a comprehensive, “two-generational” child and family centered strategy was one of the strategies featured. Enhanced Early Head Start programs were piloted in select Early Head Start (EHS) programs in Kansas and Missouri, in order to strengthen the link between the child development services EHS offers and the employment services that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) offers. These programs provided the comprehensive child and family services already provided by Early Head Start, but they also had a focus on helping the parents gain employment, achieve educational goals, and improve their overall economic security.
These pilot programs had strong positive impacts on both the children and parents who participated. The children saw their cognitive and social development increase while the parents were more likely to gain employment or participate in job training. The programs also gave parents the opportunity to enroll their children in high-quality child care, rather than home-based childcare that could potentially be lower quality. The study also found that the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome (e.g. intervening prenatally with pregnant mothers).
This is just more evidence showing that families with access to quality, affordable early childhood services have better opportunities for success. You can read the full report from MRDC or read a summary of the main findings from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).
Save the Date! June 27 Training on Using State Data in Lobby Meetings: RESULTS and the National Priorities Project (NPP) are teaming up for a conference call training in June to help you use NPP tools to get state and local data for meetings with members of Congress. This data will be helpful in your meetings at the International Conference or in-district meetings back home. We hope you will join us for this informative call. The call is Wednesday, June 27 at 8:00 pm ET. To participate, dial (866) 503-7713 and enter passcode 4091413579.
Thank you to RESULTS groups that are actively working on fundraising events this year! Our gratitude goes out to Anchorage, Asheville, Atlanta, Austin, Bremerton, Chicago, Columbus, D.C., Denver, Houston, Seattle, Tacoma, Bremerton, Santa Fe and Sitka partners. From house parties to large dinners, these events will help generate donations for our organizations and put RESULTS in the public eye in our groups’ local communities. Remember, that a fundraiser can also help you with your outreach goals. Contact RESULTS Development Associate Cindy Levin at [email protected] for support in putting together your own event this year.
Even though the RESULTS International Conference is less than two months away, it is not too late to join us in Washington, DC for the biggest event of the year. In fact, you’ll want to register sooner rather than later. The standard registration fee for the conference ($225) is only available until June 15, after which there is be an additional $75 late fee. Also, we only have a certain number of rooms available at the DoubleTree Hotel – Crystal City in Arlington, VA and once the block fills up, we can no longer guarantee the discounted room rate of $155 per night. We have already exceeded our registrations from last year so the rooms are filling up fast. Don’t miss out on these easy ways to save money at our conference by registering today.
Once you have signed up the conference, start planning now by taking the following actions:
- Schedule Lobby Prep Call with Meredith. RESULTS staff would like to meet with volunteers and/or group leaders attending the conference to help prepare you for your individual lobby meetings before you come to Washington. These prep calls have proven very successful the last few years. Contact Meredith Dodson to schedule your prep call now.
- Schedule Your Lobby Day Meetings. Start setting up your face-to-face meetings for the conference Lobby Day on Tuesday, July 24. Once you get your meetings scheduled, please let us know by filling out our online Lobby Day meeting form.
- Invite Legislators to the Lobby Day Reception. Invite your members of Congress to our spectacular conference reception on July 24. We have customizable letters you can use to send your invitations. Get on their schedules now by submitting your invitations this week.
- Use our Conference Checklist. Download and use the RESULTS IC Checklist to make sure all your ducks are in a row before you head to Washington.
- Find Out Ways to Save Money on your DC Trip. Check out this RESULTS Blog Post on money-saving tips for the conference.
(See a complete calendar on the RESULTS website)
Upcoming Congressional Recesses: House recesses, June 9-17, June 30 – July 8. Senate recesses, May 28 – June 1, July 2 – 6. Request face-to-face meetings.
Wednesday, June 6: RESULTS Introductory Call. 9:00 pm ET. (712) 432-3100, passcode 761262. RSVP for the call.
Saturday, June 9: RESULTS U.S. Poverty National Conference Call, 12:30 pm ET. Listen to previous conference calls online.
Friday, June 15: Last day to register for the RESULTS International Conference at the regular conference rate ($225). $75 late fee is added after this date.
Tuesday, June 19: RESULTS Free Agents group (U.S. Poverty) call, 9:00 pm ET. (218) 486-1611, passcode RESULTS# (7378587#). For more information, contact Jos Linn at [email protected].
Wednesday, June 27: RESULTS-NPP Training Call on Using State Data in Lobby Meetings, 8:00 pm ET. (866) 503-7713, passcode 4091413579.
Main Office: (p) (202) 783-7100, (f) (202) 783-2818, 1730 Rhode Island Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036. If mailing a donation to our DC office, please address the envelope to the attention of Cynthia Stancil.
RESULTS U.S. Poverty Legislative and Grassroots Support Staff:
- Meredith Dodson, Director of U.S. Poverty Campaigns, (202) 783-7100, x116, [email protected]
- Jos Linn, Senior Associate, U.S. Poverty Campaigns, (515) 288-3622, [email protected]
- Jenny Martin, U.S. Poverty Grassroots Organizer, New England, (413) 774-1707, [email protected]
- Ann Beltran, U.S. Poverty Volunteer Lobbyist, [email protected]
- Tavia Benjamin, 2012 Emerson Hunger Fellow, [email protected]
- Allison Burkett, 2012 Emerson Hunger Fellow, [email protected]
- Cindy Changyit Levin, Grassroots Development Associate, (773) 236-7758, [email protected]
The RESULTS Domestic Update is sent out every Tuesday via e-mail to RESULTS volunteers and allies all over the country. The purpose of these updates is to inform and activate RESULTS activists to take action on our U.S. poverty campaigns.