Aug 15, 2017

Recent articles

Statement on the violence in Charlottesville

by | Aug 15, 2017

The following is a statement from Claire Levy, Executive Director of Colorado Center on Law and Policy: 

The motivating animus behind the ugly display of violence in Charlottesville on Saturday was plain. It was an assertion of White supremacy and a claim that the identity of the United States of America belongs to people of European descent.

Colorado Center on Law and Policy rejects that assertion and rejects the view of this country that underlies it. What’s more, we believe the strength, beauty and uniqueness of the United States of America rises from embracing diversity, tolerance and inclusiveness.

For nearly 20 years, CCLP has labored on behalf of people who have faced enormous challenges just to survive: people with disabilities fighting for health care and the ability to live independently with dignity; people who weren’t born into opportunity and advantage but who strive daily to provide for themselves and their loved ones; people whose opportunities have been diminished by decades of systemic and institutional racism; and people who encountered bumps and hurdles and are trying mightily to regain their footing. Our work is based on recognition that for many the gap between the life they want and the life they have comes not from individual failing but from obstacles erected by cultural and economic systems put in place to serve people who already have much. While we work to forge pathways from poverty for all Coloradans, data consistently shows that poverty disproportionately and historically affects people of color.

The United States of America was founded on a beautiful ideal — that people who did not have religious freedom, privilege or title could prosper by their own labor. That ideal is part of our story of origin and is mythologized in songs and fables. It is an ideal that we may yet live up to.

But first, we need to acknowledge that the roots of this country began with an invasion of land that had long been civilized by native people and that the wealth of this country was built by enslaved people. Institutional racism has been with us from the beginning. Despite decades of civil rights legislation, it is clear that institutional racism is still with us. It starves some communities of education resources and showers riches upon others; it deprives some communities of health care and healthy places while others live with abundance; it subjects some to the degrading experience of hunger in this land of plenty while others delight in fresh food.  Institutional racism has created two countries.  And political opportunism has capitalized on that to turn people against one another.

The notion of White supremacy must be vanquished. It must be named explicitly and it must be condemned unequivocally. Likewise, racism in fact and in law must be named and condemned.  We who call ourselves Americans must dedicate ourselves to the eradication of racism.  We must acknowledge that that aspiration may take generations but we cannot give up out of fatigue.

CCLP stands with those who have been oppressed and raises its voice against those who sow division and hatred. Join with us.

– By Claire Levy

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.