Apr 21, 2020

Tiffani previously served as Executive Director of CCLP. She previously served as president and CEO of Ray of Hope Cancer Foundation since 2017, and was the chief strategy officer of Ability Connection Colorado. Lennon also held leadership positions at the University of Denver from 2007-2014 including chair and faculty in the Law and Society and Community-Based Research programs. She currently serves as the Executive Director for ACLU of Florida.

Recent articles

Re-imagining our vision: CCLP looks to the future

by | Apr 21, 2020

After more than 20 years of forging pathways from poverty, Colorado Center on Law and Policy recently embarked on a new strategic plan that requires us to ask difficult questions of ourselves and each other.

Building on our strong reputation as an effective advocacy organization, we are seeking to reevaluate and enhance our approach, and fuel strategic transformation by placing a commitment to equity at the forefront of our work. CCLP will also be daring in our commitment to end poverty through evidence-based legal and legislative advocacy.

I am pleased to report that during months of dedication, brainstorming and re-imagining, the staff and board stayed the course to create newly enhanced vision, mission and values statements.  I am proud of this outcome, and perhaps more importantly, I am proud of how the process created greater commitments to each other, our partners and the communities we serve.

Foremost in our mission and vision, CCLP recognizes that historical and structural discrimination has perpetuated poverty particularly for communities of color. We will help to break down those systemic practices and policies. In so doing, CCLP will seek to advance equity for all Coloradans experiencing poverty, including rural Coloradans. We will work to secure access to sufficient food, health, housing and income for all Coloradans. CCLP will continue its short-term focus on defending and expanding public programs while also realizing our long-term vision to end poverty.

Thanks to the support of The Colorado Trust, the Colorado Health Foundation, the Denver Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, and many of our other funders, we are focusing on community engagement as an essential component of our work to shift dynamics and share power. We will collaborate with partners to ensure that those with lived experiences can lead with us as we develop legislative and legal solutions to the challenges facing their communities.

Additionally, our commitment to non-partisanship and to monitor and raise the voice of communities with state agencies, such as the Colorado Offices of the Governor and Attorney General, the Colorado Departments of Health Care Policy and Financing, Public Health and Environment, and Human Services, will continue and grow stronger.

Those of you who know CCLP’s staff understand that they dig deep and are unafraid to find the answers and propose solutions. Our evidence-based approach means that we take our responsibility to the community seriously. Whether we are engaging in legislative or legal advocacy, our work will continue to be rooted in research and analysis. Because of a generous gift from Donald W. and Lynn K. Burnes late last year, we launched the Burnes Institute for Poverty Research at CCLP to build upon our research and analysis work.

The COVID-19 outbreak has underscored the importance of public programs that preserve our humanity. When Colorado closed for business to contain the outbreak, unemployment supports, access to health care, access to food, and housing security became widely understood as basic human needs that society must be able to provide. This pandemic has demonstrated that CCLP’s work is more relevant now than ever before, and has exposed the true economic fragility of life for most Coloradans, more than half of whom have always been less that a missed paycheck away from being unable to meet basic needs.

You have stood with CCLP in the past, enabling us to stand with diverse communities throughout Colorado in the fight against poverty. Your support continues to make our work possible today. We count on you and look forward to sharing more about our work and strategies for the future. If you are newly familiar with CCLP’s important work and want to join our movement, learn how to support us.

In addition to our new mission, vision and values statements, CCLP will unveil a new brand in the summer of 2020. Look for announcements regarding our anti-poverty agenda in the weeks and months to come.

-By Tiffani Lennon, J.D., LL.M

Recent articles

HEALTH:
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO (MEDICAID)

To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.

FOOD SECURITY:
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.

FOOD SECURITY:
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)

Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.

EARLY LEARNING:
COLORADO CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CCCAP)

Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.