The HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act

Recently there was a picture circulating around the media of President Trump and Presidents of our nations Historically Black Colleges (HBCU). There sole purpose was to shed light on the needs for funding to these schools. HBCU’s have played an important role throughout American history by providing safe spaces for black Americans to learn and continue efforts to prosper. They are also profoundly connected to the ongoing fight for civil rights and social black issues. The HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act (H.R. 1123) is a bill intended to amend title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965. If passed, it will revise the program by guaranteeing private loans at lower costs in order to fund maintaining the schools and infrastructure.

My goal was to find a bill that supports the purpose and presence of upholding Historically Black Colleges across the nation. I think it’s important that we support programs, activities, etc. that contribute to the success of marginalized communities. Firstly, I want to give you background knowledge about the original bill which was the Higher Education Act of 1965. This was passed to provide college students pursuing education with financial opportunities as well as providing the colleges with more resources to perform educational responsibilities. President Johnson determined there was a need for middle and low income students to have higher educational opportunities. The modifying of this bill, which was just recently introduced February of this year, will replace the phrases that say ‘’escrow account’’ with ‘’bond insurance fund’’, strengthen assistance for schools who meet eligibility requirements, and have the advisory board report annual data to includes loan reports and need based problems facing HBCU’s.

So, what does all of this mean? HBCU’s are in dire need of campus infrastructure development and the HBCU Capital Financing program is supposed to aid them through this loaning program. However, the programs advisory board has only met a few time since its creation in 1992. This is a huge problem as the board provides the Congress and Department of Education with the needs of HBCU’s and how the program can be improved. It is essential that this bill is modified as the number of degrees acquired by black college students from HBCU’s has significantly decreased over time. This bill will guide participating HBCU’s in the resources available to them as well as holding the advisory board accountable to providing data on financial wellness of the program.

In 1976-77 year HBCU’s accounted for 35 percent of bachelor degrees earned by black students. As of the 2013-14 year the percentage dropped to 15 percent. HBCU’s have also had a history of struggles with unequal government funding. I think its extremely important to keep putting pressure on responsible administrative decisions by holding them accountable. Without the necessary funds to continuously develop their schools it is hard to keep attracting students for higher enrollment. If possible, I think this bill should continue to be modified if the Department of Education can find more financial opportunities to contribute to the success of Historically Black Colleges.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

What does Family and Medical Leave cover?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) aims to afford protection and security to employees. The goal of the act is to provide financial security, allowing individuals to attend to family and personal medical needs. FMLA allows employees to earn pay while away from employment in order to do the following:

  • Take care of a serious health condition (includes pregnancy)
  • Take care of a family member with a serious health condition
  • Take care of a newborn, newly-adopted, or newly-placed child

What’s the issue?

Despite the reality that at some point, approximately all individuals will need to take time away from employment in order to address a personal or family illness, or to care for a newly introduced child, only about 14% of employees in the United States are able to take paid family leave through their employer, while less than 40% are able to take paid personal medical leave.

Why is this problematic?

Compared to nearly every other developed nation, the United States is one of the few countries that does not guarantee family and medical paid leave. This is problematic for a number of reasons. For one, incidences of family and personal illness are unpredictable and to a certain extent inevitable. Without the guaranteed protection of paid family and medical leave, families and individuals may be forced to make logical financial decisions, rather than emotionally and morally motivated decisions in fear of losing pay and potentially even employment. Considering current findings that support the benefits of guaranteed paid medical and family leave it begs the question why hasn’t the United States adopted this policy?

 Why should I support paid family and medical leave?

Although several argue that the burden falls too heavy on businesses and should be left in the hands of each state, research has shown the positive effects of guaranteeing paid leave. For example, providing employees with paid leave has been shown to improve overall financial stability and public health, which overall benefits the employer just as much as the employee. Supporting the family and medical leave would promote not only reducing employee turnover and increasing employee loyalty, but also improving family bonding and creating a more equalitarian workplace environment. In the few states that have that supported guaranteed paid family leave, there has been indications of positive outcomes. For example, in California, where medical leave is guaranteed, employees in low-wage, high-turnover jobs have shown to be more likely to return to employment after taking guaranteed paid leave.

Overall, our nation’s current policy is falling short to the needs of working families. Policy is failing individuals and families by not guaranteeing paid family and medical leave and will continue to serve as an inadequate policy unless change is enforced.

What can you do to make a change?

There are several innovative proposals created in order to make family and medical leave available to all working families, which need support. The following proposals include:

  • The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act
  • Paid Leave Fact Sheets
  • State Paid Leave Laws
  • Paid Family Leave/Paid Family and Medical Leave Research
  • Other Federal Paid Leave Legislation

Use your voice to make a change! Become informed on current work and family policy and innovative proposals around you. Then take action by telling congress to support paid leave by clicking here. Spread the word by becoming social and starting conversations addressing your views. Speak up!

The CATCH Traffickers Act

Executive Summary

Human trafficking is defined as the action of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation. Those who force individuals into slavery are hard to track down, and enslave so many individuals from so many different areas that makes it even harder. The Coordination Assistance to Catch Human Traffickers makes a plea that the Department of Homeland Security create a database with the information of all human trafficking investigations that all federal, state, and local law enforcement can view.

Introduction

For some context, 20.9 million people are victims of human trafficking today, with almost one million reported cases alone in the United States. The main cases reported are of sexual exploitation, with the superiors as being “pimps.” The main target of traffickers is those of discrimination whom have a lack of education and economic standing. Their goal is to find people who seem weak and will feel trapped and stay with them. So, of course they stereotypically target women and children. Victims of human trafficking are taken from their homes and forced into this wretched life of labor and/or sex– bullied, threatened, and abused by their superior. They are told that they and/or their family will be hurt or killed if they try to escape and get help or anything in that manner. To make sure nothing happens, they are also forced to call their friends and family and assure them they are doing great so no one worries, sends out searches, or questions them. Most crimes of human trafficking go unreported even after the victim is rescued because the victim is fearful of the superior and getting hurt for reporting. So, these traffickers are underground and make it very difficult to locate them or their victims. It takes an intensive, lengthy investigation process to locate them. A database of information that law enforcement around the nation could see would be beneficial to help locate more traffickers, possibly even quicker.

Approaches and Results

The approach the CATCH Traffickers of 2017 bill is stating starts with the Secretary of Homeland Security creating a database that will encompass information of any human trafficking investigation taking place. The head of the federal, state, or local law enforcement will keep the database updated. Upon access to said database, the only individuals to see it are those involved in a human trafficking case at that time. This would be beneficial to help catch traffickers more efficiently as those involved with a current case can see past records. As they learn what to look for from past cases that have been opened, they can find patterns and traffickers more efficiently. A scenario where this could be seen could be catching one trafficker who is enslaving multiple people. They could compare patterns of one potential victim in one area to another in a different area, notice a similarity in patterns, and catch the trafficker enslaving both girls.

These records would include signs of what the victim looked like upon arrest and what patterns of the trafficker the victim may have shared. Limiting who sees the database information keeps it concealed and still as private as it can be. The records can also have descriptions of what girls looked like. This can be pegged as a “type” as traffickers will try and find a certain look for their business, depending on what they need. This could include examples such as a woman who fits the “thin ideal” for sexual exploitation, someone who looks strong for forced physical labor. While those facts are important, most victims do not like to share or allow others to know they worked in that field, because it is negative and commonly, as if they were weak and purposefully did not leave the situation. So, the fact that it is mostly private will help the victims feel more comfortable and open to living a better life.

As the bill was introduced as of January 3rd, of 2017, it has not yet been voted on by either the House of Representatives or the Senate.

Conclusion

By establishing a database for law enforcement investigating a human trafficking case, it helps the investigators have a better idea of what to look for. Human trafficking is a diverse issue as it can be an international situation brought into our own nation under our noses. Traffickers will do anything to keep their money coming in, and some of them can be very disrespectful and aggressive. The sooner we can start identifying and prosecute them, the safer all of us become.

Implications and Recommendations

If you feel this is something to fight for, you can call your local legislator and vote “yes” for the CATCH Traffickers Act of 2017. You can also vote yes for it on countable.us. The most important recommendation I can share though, is to be educated about this topic. This is something happening within our country, when most believe it is an issue internationally only. A documentary, Tricked, on Netflix is an incredible source of information. It sheds light on the issue and makes the viewer vision and feel as if they were being trafficked. Educate yourself and vote accordingly.

School Vouchers and H.R. 610

Executive Summary

A research done by Stanford Graduate School of Education revealed that lower-income students attain an average grade that is notably below the national average, with the greatest socioeconomic disparity respectively reflecting a difference of four grade levels. This brief discusses the issue of alleviating the poverty-based achievement gap and will look at reasons why people should not be in support of the H.R. 610 To distribute Federal Funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standard in schools. This brief will mainly focus on the first half of the bill concerning the use of school vouchers.

Introduction

There has been a constant debate on the approaches to help lower-income children not fall behind in their academic achievements due to their economic background. Across the presidential administrations, policies such as No Child Left Behind and Every Student Succeeds Act have been implemented with aims of reducing this poverty-based academic achievement gap. However, results of the Stanford research reveal that disparities are still prevalent. Following the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, the discussion about the use of school vouchers has also gained significant attention.

Approaches and Results

The main concern surrounding the expansion of school vouchers program is how public funding may be drained from public schools and in turn result in the lack of resources in these schools. This lack will further disadvantage lower-income students in public schools. From the other side of the argument, promoting the use of school vouchers for more lower-income children to attend private schools for better quality education may seem justified as their education should not be compromised due to their economic backgrounds. However, that comes with the assumption that all private schools provide higher quality education compared to public schools.

Extensive research has been done on the effectiveness of school vouchers and there has been contrasting results produced. On one hand, Wenglinsky’s research done across 1988-2000 reveals that private schools do not necessarily produce higher-achieving students. On the other hand, a report by the National Center for Educational Statistics, reveals that the difference in achievements are more significant for certain private schools than others. This brings attention to the fact that having a higher school funding does not necessarily equate to higher academic achievements. There could be other determinants affecting academic performances in private schools which results in the lack of uniformity. Center of Education Policy’s publication in 2011 looked at numerous studies on school vouchers but does not give a clear cut conclusion to the effectiveness of school vouchers as it showed that the results of effectiveness of school voucher program differ across states. The publication also raised an important point that the methods used in these evaluation research as well as the sponsor organization for each research affects the objectivity and reliability of the results.

Another point to consider is the reach of the voucher program to lower-income children. Reports reveal that the percentage of children on the program is small and that there has also been students who dropped out of the program. Business Insider reports that only 3% of the students in Indiana are using the school vouchers although Indiana is the state with the most students on the program.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Although the idea of having the choice to choose a school is desirable, it must be acknowledged that the percentage of lower-income children benefitting from the school vouchers is still relatively low and might not be a sustainable option to achieve the aim of minimizing the poverty-based achievement gap. In addition, there has not been a uniform conclusion that the school voucher program has been effective in achieving better academic performance of students. Hence, people should vote against H.R. 610 and instead propose for a more comprehensive way of improving public education, especially in schools which produce significantly lower academic results. This could be a more sustainable option in the long-run as many opinions have highlighted that the majority of U.S. students will still be dependent on public education. This suggestion is based on the idea of equity, in which the government should look into supporting schools that are already trailing behind, keeping in mind that the standards of public school education across the U.S. are not uniform and hence intervention could be more targeted. More research can be done on the possible factors that contribute to higher academic performance in the private schools that have reflected these results. Implementing and adapting these factors for public schools would possibly be more effective in achieving the ultimate goal of minimizing poverty-based achievement gap.

The State of Our Prisons and the Need for Reform

by Sarah Coleman

Executive Summary

In 1971, when President Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” it resulted in a dramatically increased size and presence of federal drug control agencies. Since then, longer mandatory minimum sentencing and federal incentives to limit parole eligibility have led to an increase in our prison population. In order to cut spending in prisons and reduce the prison population, policies that end or reduce the role of criminalization on drugs needs to be enacted.

Introduction

There are currently 2.2 million people in the United States’ prisons and jails—a 500% increase over the last 40 years. Out of the 2.2 million people in prisons, one in five people incarcerated are locked up for drug offenses. As our prison population increases, our state and federal budgets have to spend more money in order to keep these prisons in business. Today, the United States uses about 1.3 billion dollars of tax payer spending on federal and state prisons. Not only have the prison populations increased since the 80’s, but so have the disparities in the racial composition of these populations in prison. As of 2014, the U.S. Census stated that Blacks are incarcerated five times more than Whites are, and Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to be incarcerated as Whites. Although drug use is comparatively equal among White, Black, and Hispanic populations, the representation of each demographic in prison is very disproportionate.

Approaches and Results

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which mandated a minimum sentence of 5 years without parole for possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine while mandating the same for possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine, increased drug enforcement and criminalization in our courts. This law was based on the ideology that crack cocaine was a more dangerous and harmful drug than powdered cocaine. Coincidentally, the majority of crack cocaine users were black compared to the powdered cocaine users who were typically white. This law added to the increase in prison populations, since many offenders had to stay in jail for longer periods of time, and added to the disparity between the amount of white and black people in the prison population. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220) was one of the first major laws put in place to counter act the criminalization of crack cocaine. This was enacted by Congress and signed into federal law by President Barack Obama on August 3, 2010. This law reduced penalties and eliminated the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for the possession of crack cocaine. This law also enabled more equal drug sentencing in the courts and began to shift the focus of drug crimes to more health-based approaches.

Conclusion    

Increasing punishments and sentencing time in prisons just isn’t working. A meta-analysis of fifty studies dating from 1958 involving 336,052 offenders produced a correlation between an increase in recidivism with increased time spent in prison. If our Nation’s goals have been to increase incarceration rates, then we have been successful. However, if our goal is to reduce crime rates, and decrease tax payer spending on prisons, then there is still a need for reformation.

Implications

Drug control cannot continue to be centered on increasing the population in prison but instead focus on rehabilitation and even preventative measures. One organization that is focusing on reforming the federal prison system is the Families Against Mandatory Minimums, which proposed The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S. 2123). This bill would reduce several federal mandatory minimum drug and gun sentences; make the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive; and allow many federal prisoners to earn time credits for completing rehabilitative programs in prison. Although this bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate on October 1, 2015, it did not become a law in the 114th Congress.

Recommendations

  1. Tell your local representatives to support the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act and other policies like it. (Learn more about this act at famm.org)
  2. Donate your time or money to organizations that are focused on the support and rehabilitation of our prison populations like the Education Justice Project.
  3. Get more informed by visiting the https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/rates.html and continue to talk to people about these issues in order to spread awareness.

Funding for the Future

Statement of Issue

Donald Trump has recently joined other Republicans in their vow to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, solely based on the idea that Planned Parenthood health care services are provided for patients to receive an abortion. The percentage of abortions that Planned Parenthood actually does are less than 3%. Taking funds away from Planned Parenthood creates a problem to America. Due to the fact that Planned Parenthood provides high quality health care for men, women, and young people, and to improve sexual health and well beings in individuals and promotes sexual health education. The lack of funding to Planned Parenthood will be harmful to a lot individuals that use Planned Parenthood whether for birth control, pat smear, use of abortions, and other health care services.They provide services to 2.7 million people in the world which are majorly of those that stay in lower income communities and Planned Parenthood is a primary source of health care for their patients.

  • Aim: My aim for this policy brief is provide information on how Planned Parenthood provides a helping hand to the communities through the many different education programs and services. Also, to showcase the impact that Planned Parenthood has on so many individuals lives and how not funding them will change those individual’s lives in a drastic ways.

Policy Myths:

Planned Parenthood is only used by women.

  • Belief that only women are being served at Planned Parenthood. When in reality, in the year 2014, Planned Parenthoods nationwide provided vasectomies to 3,445 men.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would benefit taxpayers

  • Without the necessary and low-cost health care available at PP, Medicaid spending would actually go up for the federal government and taxpayers
  • Defunding Planned Parenthood would cause Medicaid spending to increase by $650 million over ten years.

Private funds will be able to keep Planned Parenthood open

  • The federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives is largely through Medicaid reimbursements
  • Over 40 percent of Planned Parenthood’s funding comes from federal, state, and local funds. That makes up about $553 million of Planned Parenthood’s annual budget, while private donors (from its 2014–2015 report) account for only $353 million a year.
  • Without federal funding, Planned Parenthood would have little chance of survival in communities where a large majority of patients rely on the government’s Medicaid and Title X grants. Planned Parenthood’s yearly expenses are upwards of $12 billion, and 82 percent of those expenses go to client services, education, and research.

Abortion is the primary usage of Planned Parenthood.

  • Parenthood as an organization that exists for the sole purpose of blithely doling out abortions to all who walk through their doors, abortion accounts for only 3 percent of the organization’s health-care services

Policy Recommendation:

Although the government has decided to take federal funding away from Planned Parenthood, it is necessary that they keep Planned Parenthood open until they find a more alternative to it for patients whom depend on Planned Parenthood as a primary source of health services. Majorly of Planned Parenthood patients are from lower income communities that do not have other options to go if Planned Parenthood was to be shut down. The government should take a further indepth look as to how shutting Planned Parenthood could have drastic effect on the individual’s lives, whether they have use Planned Parenthood before or not.  First action set, is getting signed up for Planned Parenthood emails, rallies, and events. Secondly, schedule an appointment at Planned Parenthood to learn of all the services that they provide and that are beneficial to your life. Thirdly, begin to share your experience at Planned Parenthood and share your story of how impactful it was on your life. Then, begin to help donate to Planned Parenthood or even fundraiser to help them receive funding. After, you can start speaking more freely on social sites and become active in spreading the word of bringing funding back to Planned Parenthood.

Christian Persecution

by Allyson Borkowicz

Executive Summary

It was once said that in America, keeping silence in the face of evil only breeds evil, but silence is what America is doing in the face of Christian persecution, having over 700 acts of violence against Christians such as kidnapping, murders, rapes, torture, and damaging property monthly.  In response to this international crisis, in 2015 a bill officially titled Expressing the Sense of the House of Representatives that Christians in the Middle East are Victims of Genocide was proposed but unfortunately died in Congress.

Introduction

In the Middle East, Christians and those who are perceived as Christians, are persecuted, raped, kidnapped, tortured, killed, or if they are lucky, run away and live in exile.  They call them “infidels” and say “You don’t belong in Iraq.  Leave, pay the penalty to stay, or be ready to die” (Belz, 2015).  This is such a widespread issue that Christianity is reportedly the most persecuted religion around the globe in comparison to all other religions.  This is not an issue of us versus them, but an issue of holding countries accountable and keeping minorities safe.  As a country, based on our values, we need to stand up for the minorities, stand for the vulnerable, seek justice, raise awareness and take action.  Reconsidering the bill to protect Christians and acknowledge them as a religious minority as victims of genocide is a start.

Approaches and Results

 OpenDoors USA is a ministry that uses highly educated professionals to list the 50 countries in which Christians face the most persecution, in the top ten countries, 6 of them are from the Middle East.  In addition to this issue, countries like Iraq, Iran, and Egypt have broken their commitment of religious freedom ignoring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, and their own commitment to the Cairo Declaration and The Arab League Arab Charter on Human rights 2004.  All of the declarations mentioned above protected minority religion, safety, and freedom of religious practice.  However, despite these commitments, Iraq, Iran, and Egypt all fall on the world’s top 50 countries of Christian persecution.

  To keep minorities in this area safe, we need to revisit and rehash this bill to help raise awareness about Christian persecution on the Middle East.  The bill mentioned above, was purposed in 2015 and would recognize the historical importance of Christians in the Middle East and acknowledge that in the past several years, two-thirds of the Christians have fled despite being there for over 2,000 years.  The bill would also express the war, violence and terrorism in Syria, Iraq and other places where Christians are victims of Genocide, encourage other nations to recognize this genocide, and press for priority in refugee status for such people.  Unfortunately, this bill was not enacted and died in congress as an act of silence to evil, and not holding accountable the countries that have promised freedom of religious expression and safety to minorities.

Implications and Recommendations

 Moving forward, it is important to enact this bill with recommendations to stand for the vulnerable and stop feeding evil with silence.  One major recommendation for this bill is to not have the goal of taking all the Christians out of this area of the world by giving them priority in refugee status, but standing with them and providing culturally sensitive interventions to help build tolerance and encourage religious freedom.  Historically, when the Western world tries to intervene in such issues, it is often reported that the intervention is not culturally sensitive and often creates more intolerance in these countries.  Culturally sensitive interventions could look more like using diplomatic interventions rather than using the media, military, or other violent interventions.

It is also critical to bring to awareness the commitments these countries have made and how they have broken their commitments by not providing a safe place for religious freedom and worship.  In many ways, the bill needs to focus on what we can do and urge other countries and parties to do to hold these countries accountable.  It is important for us to urge other countries and the United Nations to take action and create consequences when commitments are not followed through.  Moving forward, we need to focus on intervention in the Middle East rather than segregating Christians from their persecutors.

With this information, go forward, raise awareness, and stand for the vulnerable.

 

 

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that provides reproductive health services; women that need birth control, an abortion, sex education, aids, etc. The federal and state government provided a lot of funding for low income women and opponents of funding argue that the government should not fund any organizations that provide abortions. Planned Parenthood believes in the right of everyone to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, etc. They believe that the reproductive self-determination must be voluntary. Planned Parenthood is important because it is the primary source of health care for many patients, it is care to primarily low income and underserved communities and it plays a role in tackling health disparities. On July 14, 2015, the Center for Medical Progress released the first series of videos depicting Planned Parenthood profiting from donation of fetal tissue. Despite being declared deceptive, the videos provided a platform for pro-life advocates to call for the investigation and subsequent defunding of Planned Parenthood, which currently receives more than $500 million dollars from the federal government annually. Planned Parenthood faces the daunting task of winning the battle for public opinion.

Every year, politicians try to restrict access to contraception, abortion and comprehensive sex education. Nearly 5 million women, men and adolescents worldwide get reproductive care or se education. Not all children grow up in homes where parents are willing to provide accurate sexual health information to their children, let alone attend schools where it’s taught. Planned Parenthood is fighting for abortion access, birth control and health care equity. A lot of controversy is occurring about abortion access because many people believe that is what Planned Parenthood is about. Abortion plays an important aspect on why they are trying to defund this organization but abortion only occurs 3% of the time compared to everything else. The public needs to realize that abortion can and should occur if it is a teen pregnancy or if the person got raped.

Everyone in the community should notice the helpful Planned Parenthood could be for families. Even though they do perform abortions, that is not the focus of it. They help ensure healthy pregnancies, prevent unwanted pregnancies, provide essential women’s health exams, etc. and many may say that, that can be provided elsewhere, but people are forgetting that there are many families who are low income and cannot afford it. All women including and especially those who lack means and access, deserve a chance at all the outcomes Planned Parenthood provides, without fear of verbal or physical attacks.

To protect access to health care, you can donate money to this non-profit organization to ensure and provide medical needs for the patients. Also, if you are a patient of Planned Parenthood, you could share your story on their main website. This can be very helpful to all politicians in regards to convincing that Planned Parenthood is more than just abortions. You can also be a defender which is a core group of supporters who give their time to defend Planned Parenthood.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

This policy brief will cover a policy regarding food security called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also known as SNAP. This brief will discuss the issues dealing with this policy and some changes that we can make in order to improve the quality of service it can offer as well as the target audience this policy can apply to.

Food security is an important policy topic because this is one of the necessities of human well being and if there are some families, or even individuals, in our community who are unable to supply this need, there should be a way that the government can help out or assist them so they can live lives of well being. People should care because all individuals play into a community. If there are some individuals or groups of people who are suffering or not meeting the standards to a life of well being, this can not only bring down the quality of the community, but can also result in many consequences and negative behavior. In order to avoid or prevent this, people should be aware of what consists of their communities, and policymakers and influencers should also be aware of why this can affect more than just the subject himself/herself. In terms of the research that I looked further into, the main goal was to see how beneficial SNAP really was not only to the individuals but also to the community and economy as a whole.  The overall findings showed that this program was very beneficial in many ways. Specifically, one aspect I want to highlight is how the economy is benefitting from this program. The SNAP dollar directly goes to the consumer and the consumer then goes to use this SNAP dollar to purchase goods, bringing more money and flow into the economy. This research proved that $1 in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 into economic activity, and this research also provides information that SNAP benefits brought in about $3.0 billion into specifically Illinois’ economy in 2016. This highlights a lot of benefits and the research shows how impactful SNAP is and how much it not only helps individuals and families but also how it is bringing more flow into the economy. However, another aspect of this research shows that around 40% of the families receiving benefits are working families. This implies that more than 50% of the people receiving benefits are unemployed, meaning that majority people receiving benefits are of poor households. This leads me to question if we as a community and state should be more concerned about the mass amount of poor families in Illinois. Is this healthy for our overall government nationally? If not, what more is there that we can do to change this and help uplift these groups?

Some more facts concerning this research and the benefit receivers include 65% of SNAP benefit receivers are in families with children and 28% are in families with members who are elderly or have disabilities. This research also provides more in-depth data: 11.1% of households were food insecure, or struggled to afford nutritionally adequate diet, the medium income was 3.7% below the 2007 level after adjusting inflation, 13.6% of the population lived below the poverty line, 18.9% of children lived below the poverty line, and 8.5% of eligible workers participated. So, although the economy may be benefitting from this program, we can see that there are still so many individuals and families who suffer from food insecurity and are unable to provide many needs for themselves and for families.

The conclusion is that even though the economy may be generating smoothly with this food assistance program, families and individuals are still strongly struggling and there must be more ways for us, as community members and perhaps even policy makers and influencers, to help and do more to provide different resources.

As a student with limited knowledge and resources, the best proactive challenge I can give is for you, readers, to get up and go to your community to do outreach. Go to your nearest church or charity center and ask them what are some ways that you might be able to help out in. The most I can do is to donate, whether it be money or food or other goods, and hope for the resource centers to use what I offer for the bigger picture and greater effect.

H.R. 325: Adult Day Center Enhancement Act

Executive Summary

Adult day centers are spread far and few with low budgets. With 53% of adults who have diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain trauma, and other neurological diseases being between ages 18 and 74, there is need for adult day programs to help younger adults with neurological diseases and conditions. H.R. 325: Adult Day Center Enhancement Act would expand and enhance existing day programs.

Introduction

One in six people in the United States lives with a neurological disease or condition. A family caregiver, someone related to a person with a neurological disease who takes care of them, provides around $470,000,000,000 in support and care a year. Adult day centers can help offset that cost and help provide medical care, rehabilitation programs, nutrition therapy, social interaction, activities, and much more. They help to decrease the burdens placed upon caregivers as well as reduce dependency and increase quality of living in those who have neurological diseases and conditions. Currently, the majority of adult day centers cater to an older clientele and do not have appropriate programs needed to serve younger adults. Research involved in this bill looks at adult day centers to see which ones are successful and why, identifying adult day centers which serve young adults, develop a set of standards for programs to be successful, and discover the extent to which the Administration for Community Living supports adult day centers through current federal grants.

Approaches and Results

Within 90 days of gathering information on adult day centers, The Assistant Secretary for Aging will create a competitive grant program for awarding grants annually through the Administration for Community Living. These programs would have to be proven as eligible based on guidelines for the best practices based on findings from the previously mentioned research, as well as having to serve young adults. Within a year of giving out grants, and every year thereafter, the Assistant Secretary for Aging will publish a report. These reports will describe the adult day centers receiving funding, how much funding they receive, performance goals, and plans to improve the programs.

Adult day centers have been shown to have many benefits for those who have neurological diseases and conditions. These include improvements in functional status, social support, as well as reductions in fatigue, depression, and pain. Through improved day center programs, less adults will need to be placed in nursing homes and can be cared for at home, reducing cost to families. Health and social services are available while living at home rather than having to check into a hospital or home.

Conclusion

By providing federal grants to these adult day centers, these centers can develop stronger and more successful programs to better support young adults living with neurological diseases and conditions. It can help take financial burdens off of families as well as improve quality of living for those individuals. Regulation of standards for programs through research and funding can help improve these centers as well as the services they offer.

Implications and Recommendations

This bill was introduced January 5, 2017 and is currently being overviewed by a committee. You can support this bill, and others bills similar to it, by calling your congress representatives. This bill could potentially positively impact many individuals and families in a positive way and should not be overlooked or thrown away.