State Policy

 

Early Childhood

Wins for new moms and babies including much-needed funding support for Early Intervention Services/Baby Watch (Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, SB 2) and SB 135 which will strengthen statewide, evidence-based home visiting programs for low-income mothers (Sen. Escamilla).

SB 100 (Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden) commissions an analysis of early childhood systems throughout the state, to determine where and to what extent early childhood services exist such as developmental screenings, home visiting, high-quality child care and preschool, as well as what access barriers there are between these services and the children and families who need them.

Access to Healthcare

A win for families is HB 278 (Rep. Chavez-Houck, D- Salt Lake City), which makes it easier for divorced parents to seek medical care for their children. It requires medical providers to separately bill each parent for their due portion, and prohibits a parent from getting a negative credit report if the other parent has not made his or her portion. The onus is no longer on the parent to track down the full payment or risk a bad credit score. HB 278 will help more kids get the care they need.

Sen. Christensen (R-Ogden) sponsored SB 51, which would return Medicaid managed care services to a fee for service model. Ultimately, this bill was decided outside of legislation, however, the agreement reached will help more children access a Medicaid pediatric dentist or school-based preventive dental care. To further monitor the issue, Sen. Escamilla (D-Salt Lake City) sponsored intent language that directs the Department of Health to investigate pediatric dental care access issues kids enrolled in Medicaid may experience (SB 2).

Immunization

Rep. Thurston’s (R- Provo) bill HB 308 which will strengthen protections for Utah students against disease outbreaks and standardize vaccination exemption requirements and procedures, creating an online education module for those seeking an exemption.

Suicide Prevention

Lawmakers took several key steps toward addressing bullying, student safety and teen suicide in Utah. Sen. Escamilla (D-Salt Lake City) sponsored SB 161, which strengthens school anti-bullying policies, and gives parents and school staff greater ability to address anti-bullying behavior.

Rep. Eliason (R-Sandy), who was also the floor sponsor for SB 161, sponsored HB 223 which establishes a suicide prevention education program, including firearm safety curriculum to be made available in schools.
A big win this session for Utah kids is the repeal of the so-called “No Promo Homo” in SB 196. Previously schools were not allowed to discuss homosexuality in the classroom and curricula. This harmful and discriminatory policy was repealed thanks to the efforts of Sen. Stuart Adams (R-Layton), champions at Equality Utah and others for create a safer, creating more inclusive environment for Utah kids.

Juvenile Justice

For the last year, the state policy makers have been grappling with how to make Utah’s juvenile justice system work better for kids and our community. With the help of the Pew Charitable Trusts, a workgroup made up of key stakeholders—judges, mental health providers, police officers, school officials, prosecutors, and juvenile defense attorneys—made a number of strong recommendations including:

  • Keeping kids out of court for low-level status offenses like truancy.
  • Bringing much-needed structure to the sentencing process in the juvenile justice system.
  • Ensuring that kids don't spend time in detention just because they can't pay restitutions and fines.
  • Creating specific performance requirements for community placement programs.
  • Ensuring that children have their constitutionally guaranteed right to counsel.

HB 239, Juvenile Justice Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Lowry Snow (R-St. George), incorporated many of these recommendations and received near unanimous support this legislative session. The bill that finally will bring much-needed structure to juvenile sentencing, and require important training for system workers. However, the legislature failed to provide sufficient funding to ensure kids have access to community-based and school-based interventions that offer more opportunities for positive change and that Utah is meeting its constitutional obligation that kids have legal representation.

The passage of SB 134, Indigent Defense Commission Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler (R-Salt Lake), may provide a forum to address the lack of legal representation for kids involved in juvenile justice system by expanding Utah’s Indigent Defense Commission’s mission to include looking at how Utah will protect children’s Sixth Amendment rights, not just adults.

Public Education

For decades Utah has languished at the bottom in terms of state investment in our kids. While big reforms inspired by the Our Schools Now initiative did not make it through in 2017 (The Our Schools Now ballot initiative, however, remains very much alive), the legislature did take a number of positive steps.

As a result of higher-than-expected revenue projections, the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee recommended a 3 percent increase to the value of the weighted pupil unit (WPU) — the basic unit of education funding — as well as $68 million for new growth in the state’s public education system.

HB 168 (Rep. Lowry Snow, R-St. George) appropriates just under $3 million in TANF funds to help schools establish kindergarten supplemental enrichment programs (extended-day kindergarten). Schools with at least 10 percent of their students experiencing intergenerational poverty will receive first priority for funding, followed by schools in which 50 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The bill also directs the State Board of Education to develop kindergarten entry and exit assessments to be used in conjunction with these programs.

HB 212 (Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley) provides bonuses for teachers working in high-poverty schools who have a 70 percent median growth percentile or higher (as determined by SAGE scores). The state and the school district will each provide half of the bonus funds. While there are concerns about the limitations imposed as a result of using SAGE scores as the sole determinant, it is nonetheless a good step toward incentivizing highly effective educators who work in high-need schools. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and now goes to the Governor.

SB 34 (Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden) authorizes the State Board of Education to reimburse a local education agency that provides competency-based education for a student who graduates early. In the past, school districts and LEAs lost the remaining per-pupil funding each time a student graduated before the end of their senior year. The bill passed the House unanimously and now goes to Governor Herbert.

 


LUGU Logo 1March 30, 2017 is Love UT Give UT!

It’s a day for Utahns to give to the nonprofits that make Utah special. Every donation to Voices for Utah Children through Love UT Give UT gives Voices a chance to win matching grants and prizes—and gives you a chance to win a car!

And you don't have to wait!  Donate now at http://bit.ly/loveUTchildren.

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog

This op-ed by Matthew Weinstein of Voices for Utah Children and Derek Monson of the Sutherland Institute was originally printed in the Salt Lake Tribune on February 18, 2017.

For some children in Utah, poverty is their inheritance. By no choice of their own, they have never experienced life outside the world of welfare dependence.

As these children grow older, they face a daunting choice: continue in the lifestyle they know and grew up in, or transition toward an unfamiliar life of self-reliance. Even if these young people have a healthy desire for the latter, it can be a difficult road with many personal, cultural, educational, economic and policy barriers.

Fortunately, we can do something to tear down some of these barriers. Specifically, the Utah Legislature can start by passing HB294 — Utah Intergenerational Poverty Work and Self-Sufficiency Tax Credit.

This proposal would help those seeking a way out of intergenerational poverty by lowering tax barriers and allowing them to keep more of what they earn through employment. At the federal level, this policy is called the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Creating an EITC for Utahns in intergenerational poverty makes sense on several levels.

Utah has been on the forefront of states seeking solutions for intergenerational poverty, and HB294 is a natural extension of those efforts. It provides a helping hand to those in intergenerational poverty when they reach the stage of being able and willing to achieve self-reliance through work.

Intergenerational poverty reflects at least a second generation of poverty, often with the higher level of discouragement and family dysfunction that commonly comes with that experience. It is deeper and tougher to climb out of than stereotypical poverty, which is usually due to a temporary setback like the loss of a job. Giving the full financial and human rewards of self-reliance through earned success to such families makes it more likely that their efforts to stay out of poverty will be successful.

Utah ranks No. 1 in the nation for social mobility. A child growing up in poverty in Utah has a better chance of making it into the middle class than in any other state. This is largely thanks to a culture that embraces two-parent families and a strong work ethic. Utah has the highest rate of two-parent families in the nation, translating into a relatively small share of children growing up in poverty. Utah also has labor force participation rates for both men and women that exceed the national average.

Utah also recently earned a No. 2 ranking in the nation for evidence-based policymaking, as determined by the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. Few policies have as much evidence in support of their effectiveness as the EITC.

A Congressional Research Service report in 2014 found that the federal EITC lowered the proportion of American families in poverty between 14 and 30 percent, depending on marital status and family size. Currently its top advocate in Washington is House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has proposed expanding it further, saying, "This is one of the few programs that have shown results. It encourages people to work by increasing the rewards of work."

The EITC makes sense not only for those in poverty, but for the economy and taxpayers as well. For example, Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, has said, "[the] EITC truly is our best option for supporting work." Stanford University's Hoover Institution has concluded that "the EITC is probably the most cost-effective anti-poverty program the federal government operates."

HB294 would make Utah the 27th state in the nation to enact a state EITC. While this policy will not solve intergenerational poverty, it will add an effective tool to fighting poverty in Utah. It will also provide practical assistance to those seeking to overcome some of the greatest economic challenges that families in Utah face, and at a very reasonable cost.

Just as importantly, it shows that in our communities, we believe that a child's future inheritance should be more than their parents' poverty.


LUGU Logo 1March 30, 2017 is Love UT Give UT!

It’s a day for Utahns to give to the nonprofits that make Utah special. Every donation to Voices for Utah Children through Love UT Give UT gives Voices a chance to win matching grants and prizes—and gives you a chance to win a car!

And you don't have to wait!  Donate now at http://bit.ly/loveUTchildren.

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex

Published in News & Blog

Voices for Utah Children Supports HB 294, the Utah Intergenerational Poverty Work and Self-sufficiency Tax Credit. HB 294 strengthens Utah’s groundbreaking Intergenerational Poverty (IGP) initiative with an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Twenty-six other states across the nation and across the political spectrum have already created state EITCs, boosting work, independence, and self-sufficiency for low-income families. Utah should too, starting with our most at-risk population, the 37,512 adults and 57,602 kids grappling with intergenerational poverty (comprising 25% of all adults receiving public assistance, 62% of whom worked in 2015).

How would the IGP EITC work? (HB 294)

It would create a state EITC for IGP families that work, qualify for the federal EITC, and file their state taxes

How much would families receive?

10% of the federal EITC: ~$250 on average, up to ~$600, depending on income and # of kids

For more information, see the complete factsheet:

pdfVote Yes on HB 294: The IGP EITC


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog

New factsheets by the University of Utah School of Medicine describe two policy solutions that would help Utah families obtain healthcare they need to plan and space their pregnancies in order to better achieve the best health outcomes for the mother and child. In addition to promoting health, these solutions are cost-effective.

A Medicaid State Plan Amendment (SPA) allows family planning coverage for individuals that do not qualify for full Medicaid benefits. Expanding family planning coverage would maximize the the federal match and support the health of Utah families. There are 28 states that take advantage of the option to offer family planning coverage for individuals that do not qualify for full Medicaid benefits. These existing programs have proven to be budget neutral or cost-saving.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are highly effective contraception devices with minimal side effects that can be safely inserted immediately following delivery or during the mother's hospital stay. However, current Medicaid reimbursement procedures create a disincentive to offering LARC in this context. Unbundling LARC insertions from the global fee could improve access to this effective option.

For more information, see the complete fact sheets:

pdfExpanding Family Planning Coverage with Medicaid

pdfExpanding Options for Postpartum Contraception


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog

Oral Health Care for Children and Families

school oral healthTooth decay is the top preventable disease for kids. When kids experience poor oral health, their school attendance and grades are likely to suffer. Kids experiencing dental pain cannot concentrate in school and fully participate in activities. What’s more, oral health decay can lead to other serious medical problems. An estimated 65% of Utah children have experienced a dental cavity by the time they are 9-years-old.

The best way to treat cavities is through prevention: we can prevent oral health problems before they occur. But many families have trouble accessing affordable dental care for their kids. Working parents may not be able to get the time off for a routine visit. Low-income children, children of color and children in rural areas have an even harder time accessing a dentist in their communities. According to a recent Department of Health report, Hispanic children were five times more likely to report having unmet dental health needs compared to White children. 

School-based prevention or sealant programs are one of the best ways to ensure all kids can receive affordable, preventative oral health care.

We need to help more children access school-based sealant programs and affordable care. Voices for Utah Children supports policies that expand dental care access for all children including:

  • Changes to the Utah Medicaid dental program to better meet the needs of low-income families and expand school-based care, including reimbursing for patient assessment in a public health settings (Medicaid code D0191).
  • Expanding Medicaid and CHIP oral health quality performance measures, monitoring and evaluation to improve kids’ utilization of preventive care visits.
  • Expanding dental health benefits for children in the marketplace, including a more robust pediatric dental benefit package and embedding children’s dental health benefits into all plans.
  • A comprehensive state plan to address oral health access disparities experienced by low-income children, children of color, and children in rural areas across the state.

Our children should not be falling behind due to cavities or oral health pain. Together we can strengthen our pediatric oral health system so all kids can succeed.

Image Credit: © Oksun70 | Dreamstime.com - Kid Girl Brushing Teeth In Bathroom Photo

Image Credit: American Dental Association


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog
Tagged under

health insurance foundation

Medicaid, CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) form the foundation of children’s health coverage. These programs are deeply connected to one another and our overall state safety net system. Federal and state lawmakers are proposing and enacting proposals that undermine ACA, CHIP and Medicaid. A repeal, cut or restructure of one program affects the others, and puts the care of Utah children and families at risk.

Thanks to the ACA, Medicaid and CHIP, we have seen the rate of uninsured Utah children drop from 11% in 2011 to a historic low of 6% in 2016. We cannot afford to let child health coverage, adequacy, and affordability move backwards. We must ensure that we sustain and build on our unprecedented success in covering children.

Medicaid is the cornerstone for children’s health coverage. Our state leaders must support the continued stability and affordability of the Medicaid program. Medicaid is the safety net health care program for low-income children. Over 200,000 Utah children rely on Medicaid insurance coverage, and its pediatric benefits are considered the gold standard for child health, particularly for children and youth with special health care needs. Changes to Medicaid’s financing structure through a block grant or per capita cap would undermine the program’s integrity by creating gaps in state funding. They would likely lead to limits placed on the programs, such as a reduction in benefits or fewer kids covered. Proposals to promote state innovation need to strengthen our safety net for kids and families, not weaken it.

Block grants or per capita caps would undermine Medicaid program integrity. Changes to Medicaid’s financing structure through a block grant or per capita cap would create large shortfalls in state funding. Learn more about hCoverage in Utah for kids infographicow block grants would harm Utah's budget.

Extend funding for CHIP for at least five years. A robust, long-term extension of CHIP funding for at least five years would help stabilize coverage for the 8.9 million U.S. children who rely on CHIP and provide certainty to Utah amid potentially significant changes to the broader coverage landscape. Learn more about CHIP.

Children must not lose any ground. Unraveling the ACA without a replacement plan attached threatens the health of children and families. There are 38,000 Utah children enrolled in ACA, or marketplace, coverage. At least 87% of Utahns enrolled in the exchange are receiving subsidies. The ACA provides protections for children and families, increases affordability and establishes evidence-based essential health benefits.

Extend Medicaid Coverage for Parents. Medicaid coverage for parents benefits the whole family. Yet thousands of Utah families are unable to receive Medicaid coverage, falling into the Medicaid ‘coverage gap.’ As a result, the family is at increased financial risk. Moreover, children are more likely to be uninsured. It is time to close the coverage for all parents and individuals. Learn more about citizen initiatives to close the coverage gap.

Working families depend on these vital health care programs. What is at stake if the ACA is repealed without a replacement, or changes are made to CHIP and Medicaid?

  • The number of uninsured Utah children would more than double. By 2019, at least 141,000 children would be uninsured.
  • The number of uninsured Utah parents would jump from 82,000 to 171,000. Research shows that children are better off when their parents have health insurance coverage.
  • Families and individuals would lose protection from exclusions and discrimination. Approximately 1.2 million Utahns – including 411,000 children- no longer experience lifetime limits on coverage now that the ACA is in effect.

We are putting our children’s future at risk by failing to guarantee Utah children and families have stable health insurance coverage. All children and families need consistent, comprehensive and affordable care.

Medicaid Helps Utah Children Get the Health Care They Need to Succeed from Georgetown CCF on Vimeo.

Printer-friendly Version:

pdf Preserve and Protect Health Coverage for Utah Children and Families

Additional Materials

Utah Children and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Healthcare Repeal Bill

Utah Snapshot of Children's Coverage: How Medicaid, CHIP, and the ACA Cover ChildrenHow Medicaid, CHIP, and the ACA Cover Children

In Support of Medicaid Standards for Children

Block grants or per capita caps would undermine the Medicaid program.

Number of Uninsured Utah Kids and Parents Would More than Double if ACA Repealed

The ACA Gave a Needed Boost to Utah’s Latino Child Health Insurance Rate

Tell Senator Hatch Not to Repeal the ACA without Replacing It

Defending Health Care in 2017: What Is at Stake for Utah

273,000 Utah Residents Would Lose Coverage in 2019 Under ACA Repeal2019 Under ACA Repeal

What Would Block Grants or Limits on Per Capita Spending Mean for Medicaid?

Fact Sheet: Per Capita Caps vs. Block Grants in Medicaid


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog
February 14, 2019

Healthy Moms = Healthy Kids

Maternal 1

Maternal 2

For Printable Version pdfMaternal Mental Health Support Flyer


For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express, our "Making a Difference All Year Long" sponsor. Amex

 

Published in News & Blog