Federal Policy Recommendations for 2010
Jan 25, 2010 | CLASP
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Our nation faces many domestic challenges, including improving access to affordable health care, improving access to education as well as education outcomes, and providing debt and foreclosure relief. CLASP's 2010 federal policy recommendations are equally essential to achieving healthy and thriving families and improving the nation's prosperity.
To ensure the nation's economic recovery is long-term and inclusive, Congress and the Obama Administration should commit to:
The United States is a powerful and wealthy nation, yet one in seven-39.8 million-lives below the federal poverty threshold, and millions more hover near poverty and struggle to make ends meet. Federal lawmakers should commit to: cutting poverty by 50 percent within 10 years, overhauling the federal poverty measure, and creating measures to address issues of well-being beyond income status. Read more.
Reconnect Disconnected Youth
Each year nearly half a million youth drop out of high school. Currently, about 3.8 million young people between ages 16 and 24 are out of school and out of work. This problem disproportionately affects low-income minority communities where high school dropout rates exceed 50 percent, where youth unemployment is extremely high, where gang participation and youth violence is on the rise, and where approximately one-third of all young black men are connected to the criminal justice system. Federal policymakers should increase federal investments targeted to communities of high youth distress. Read more.
Improve Workforce Education and Training
A strong workforce and education system is critical for economic recovery. Low-skill, low-income individuals must gain the skills necessary to secure employment in industries and occupations anticipated to grow as the economy emerges from recession. And American businesses need access to skilled workers to compete in the global economy. Federal policy makers should commit to building supportive education and training pathways to good jobs that sustain families and communities. Read more.
Improve Job Quality
While skills development is essential for advancing the prospects of low-skill individuals, it alone is insufficient to expand economic opportunity for low-wage workers and their families. The nation's jobs need to be modernized to match the realities of today in which both parents are typically in the workforce and in which the care of elders often falls to adult children. Federal policymakers should provide leadership to improve job quality through wages, benefits, paid leave, and predictable and responsive schedules so that workers can meet both work and family responsibilities. Read more.
Improve TANF and Expand Work Supports
The current deep recession has exposed gaping holes in our country's safety net for individuals and families that are unemployed, underemployed or temporarily unable to work. Federal policymakers should shore up or enact policies that strengthen income- and work-support programs and renew focus on alleviating poverty, preventing material hardship, and creating effective pathways to economic opportunity. Read more.
Support Public Investments
Over the past two decades, there has been a significant shift toward achieving policy goals through the tax system. This has included an expansion of refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the refundable portion of the child tax credit. However, the tax system still includes large numbers of incentives provided through tax deductions, which provide a greater benefit to higher income households and no benefit at all to households that do not owe federal income taxes. Federal policymakers should continue the Recovery Act improvements in tax supports for low-income individuals and families, replace deductions with refundable tax credits, and maintain the revenue base needed to support key public investments. Read more.
Improve Access to High-Quality Child Care
With four out of 10 children under age 6 living in low-income households (under 200 percent of poverty) and facing multiple risk factors that affect their chances for success in later life, investments in young children are increasingly important. Decades of research confirm that high-quality child care and early education can improve outcomes for children, particularly low-income children. Federal policymakers should commit to ensuring that families living in low-income communities have access to affordable, high quality child care settings that promote healthy development and school success and help parents work. Read more.
Improve the Child Welfare System
Children who experience abuse or neglect are at greater risk of adverse life outcomes, and children who have been in foster care, including those who "age out" of foster care upon turning 18, typically attain fewer years of education and have less steady employment. Federal policymakers should make prevention of child abuse and neglect a priority. Read more.
Expand and Improve Civil Legal Assistance
Civil legal assistance for low-income people is crucial to ensure our nation's promise of "equal justice under the law." Legal aid helps to ensure fundamental fairness as well as to deal with the specific legal issues faced by low-income people in areas including family stability and domestic violence, housing, consumer health, employment and income supports, and racial equity. The federal government should increase LSC appropriations in FY 2011 and subsequent years, eliminate the 1996 restrictions imposed on LSC grantees, and appoint a new Board of Directors for LSC that supports these priorities and improves the quality of civil legal assistance. Read more.