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NAEHCY 2014 - Kansas City, MO Fighting for Access to Child Care for Homeless Children Through State- Level Legislative Advocacy Dylan Waguespack, Louisiana.

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Presentation on theme: "NAEHCY 2014 - Kansas City, MO Fighting for Access to Child Care for Homeless Children Through State- Level Legislative Advocacy Dylan Waguespack, Louisiana."— Presentation transcript:

1 NAEHCY 2014 - Kansas City, MO Fighting for Access to Child Care for Homeless Children Through State- Level Legislative Advocacy Dylan Waguespack, Louisiana Progress 504.450.7496

2 Discuss: What barriers exist for homeless families in accessing child care? Discuss: Why is child care specifically important for homeless families?

3 Why Child Care? ✤ Homeless families represent 32 percent of the homeless population. 84 percent of homeless families are female-headed. 51 percent of children living in HUD-funded shelters are under the age of five. Mothers who have experienced homelessness were less likely than their housed peers to have received child care subsidies. Women who have experienced experienced homelessness are also more likely to report quitting jobs or school due to problems with their child care.

4 Why Child Care? ✤ Homeless families rely at higher rates on informal sources of care, such as family, friend, or neighbor care. 35 percent of women who have experienced homelessness characterized their child care as unreliable, compared with 23 percent of women at- risk of homelessness and 6 percent of stably-housed women. Young children who are homeless have more developmental delays, and more health and mental health problems, than low- income housed children.

5 Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) ✤ Each state receives a block grant through the federal Child Care and Development Fund, administered by the Administration for Children and Families. ✤ States use this money to provide subsidized child care to low-income families, who often wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford child care. ✤ Child care tuition is comparable to college tuition in many states, with averages ranging from $4000/year in Mississippi to over $16,000/year in Massachusetts (and over $21,000 in DC). For more info, see CCDF Policies Database compiled by the Urban Institute and by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation

6 Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) ✤ To stay in compliance, states are required to submit plans to ACF on how they will spend CCDF grants. ✤ States have flexibility. ✤ States define work, education, and training. ✤ States set income eligibility and can prioritize low income families and other groups (homeless families, children in need of protective services, etc.) ✤ States decide how eligibility is determined. ✤ States set provider payment rates. ✤ States make the rules, but you have the opportunity to influence them!

7 Child Care for Homeless Families The landscape, in brief ✤ Early Head Start and Head Start programs are a great resource for homeless families, and many work to prioritize enrollment. These programs are underfunded -- often cannot provide transportation, and waiting lists are an issue. ✤ Some (but not all) states have public pre-kindergarten! ✤ Seven states prioritize care for homeless families in their CCDF plans - AR, DE, HI, MA, NJ, NY, VA. ✤ Every state has the opportunity to improve access to child care for homeless families.

8 ✤ Offer priority eligibility for homeless children ✤ Exempt housing assistance from countable income ✤ Waive work/school hour requirements for homeless families ✤ Waive co-payments for low-income families ✤ Allow for flexibility in meeting documentation requirements ✤ See: and_procedures.pdf and_procedures.pdf Recommendations from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

9 Improving Access to Child Care for Homeless Louisiana Families Act of 2014 - overview ✤ Clarifies that services to homeless families are an allowable use of block grant funding. ✤ Allows for a homeless child to immediately enroll in care while necessary entry documentation is obtained. ✤ Waives the work/school hours requirement for homeless parents looking to access childcare who can demonstrate that they are job searching or participating in a transitional living program. ✤ Requires DCFS, in addition to coordinating with local child care programs, to coordinate with McKinney-Vento school district liaisons and other entities providing services to homeless families in order to increase access for homeless families to information about child care and transportation to child care placements. ✤ Collects data on whether the parents receiving child care subsidy are homeless.

10 2014 Improving Access to Child Care for Homeless Louisiana Families Act -- definitions

11 2014 Improving Access to Child Care for Homeless Louisiana Families Act -- findings; purposes



14 2014 Improving Access to Child Care for Homeless Louisiana Families Act


16 Challenges ✤ Some of the challenges we faced during the legislative process and beyond: ✤ The bill had a misleading $1.6 million fiscal note attached to it by the legislative fiscal office and a committee redirect on the Senate side. It passed the Senate floor on the last day of the legislative session. ✤ Department of Child and Family Services amendments ✤ Misconceptions - “Why does a homeless person need child care if they aren’t working?” ✤ Access continues to be an issue - provider payments are low and sometimes infrequent, so too few child care providers participate in the Child Care Assistance Program.

17 Developing an advocacy plan Who are the stakeholders? How can they be engaged? Oftentimes, shelters and other stakeholders will have good relationships with their district legislators and will be able to help secure an initial meeting. Some likely allies are educators, CCDF grant administrator, RHY shelters, shelters for young mothers, child advocacy organizations, youth organizations, service providers, referral agencies, child welfare agencies, and child care providers. You may also find support from faith leaders, multi-issue progressive policy organizations, teachers’ unions, and organizations that focus on budget issues or women’s issues.

18 Developing an advocacy plan Resources - finding the gaps CCDF Policies Database - Find your state plan for CCDF! Google - you will almost certainly be able to find it online. If not, contact the state agency that administers CCDF.

19 Recruit a bill author! Important things to consider when choosing a bill author: District - Is family homelessness a major issue in their district? (^Probably, yes) Committee membership - Members of the committee that deals with human services may have a more in-depth understanding of homelessness than legislators assigned to committees like Commerce or Transportation. However, a member of Appropriations or Finance might be better equipped to manage a bill with a fiscal note attached. Legislative background - Do any current legislators have a history of working on poverty or homelessness? Are they a member of a task force or state commission that has worked on poverty or homelessness? Developing an advocacy plan Recruit elected officials to the cause! Getting a meeting: Just call and ask! Scheduling is often the most difficult part, especially if they live outside your district.

20 Developing an advocacy plan Recruit elected officials to the cause! Prepare for your meeting with a potential author: Have something you can hand them. You may find that a one- pager both summarizing the issue and proposing a legislative solution is an effective strategy. Know their district. Try to come prepared with Point-In-Time count information relevant to the area they serve. Once you recruit an initial bill author, go for coauthors! Coauthors build momentum. Coauthor recruitment is your opportunity to build a bipartisan movement and get support from the committee that will vote on it.

21 Developing an advocacy plan Recruit elected officials to the cause! Tips on meeting with legislators: - Stay on message! - Share a personal story. - Be polite and not too aggressive. - Gauge where they are on your issue and try to move them along. Who should you bring with you? - An expert - Someone from their district with a relevant story - Someone who knows politics and the players

22 Before and during the legislative session Building Support Committee hearings: Leading up to the first committee hearing, work with stakeholders to recruit individuals to call and email the committee members. Some of your stakeholders might be with organizations that have large email lists. Ask if they would be willing to send out an alert to their subscribers that asks them to contact committee members (Tip: If you offer to draft the alert from them, they will have a hard time saying no). Host a phone banking party! Invite people to your home or recruit someone to host. People will come, especially if you tell them there will be pizza.

23 Before and during the legislative session What to expect when calling a legislator ✤ Your call will likely be answered by a legislative aide who will make a note of your comments. ✤ They may ask who the sponsor of the bill is and for your address to see if you live in their district. ✤ Provide a script to make it easy: Hi, my name is ________ and I live in ________. I’m calling to ask Rep./Sen. ______ to support/oppose (HB/SB##). This is important to me because... Can you tell me how they plan to vote on this? ✤ Share a personal story if you have one.

24 Before and during the legislative session Committee Hearings ✤ In most states, once your bill has been assigned to a committee, the chair of the committee and the bill author will work together to schedule it. ✤ You may have as little as a week’s notice that your bill is scheduled for committee. ✤ Leading up to the session and throughout, work on recruiting people to give testimony in the committee hearing. This is the part of the process that is most open to citizen involvement. Involve educators and service providers! The best testimony comes from folks who are faced by the issue in their daily life. ✤ Prepare testimony to present to the committee. Be prepared to keep it brief - often testimony is limited to a few minutes or less due to heavy committee schedules and time constraints. ✤ Encourage partners to attend the hearing and file cards or comments in support for the legislative record.

25 Before and during the legislative session Floor debates ✤ Once the legislation has passed through the committee, it will go to the floor of whichever side it started on (House or Senate) for a vote of that full body. ✤ Floor debate is limited to legislators. Be sure that the bill author is prepared for debate, and coach them on talking points beforehand if they need help. ✤ After your first floor vote - lather, rinse, repeat, unless you are in Nebraska, which is the only state that has only one legislative body.

26 Before and during the legislative session Communications and Media Try to pick up media attention for your efforts! Some strategies are letters to the editor, media calls, media advisories, and press releases. As the bill moves through the legislative process, be sure to keep your stakeholders and larger audience informed and engaged. Consider a social media presence on Facebook and/or Twitter. Send out email blasts! Consider partnering with regional provider coalitions who can send out updates to all of their member shelters and agencies.

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