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CAAP News Update
2018 Farm Bill Crosses Finish Line … but administration’s proposed rule may undermine SNAP benefits
On December 12th, Congress voted for a $867 billion farm bill with strong bipartisan support. The bill cleared the House on a 369–47 vote and passed the Senate with a vote of 87–13. Most anti-hunger advocates are happy with the reauthorization efforts to protect SNAP in the Farm Bill.
Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are not in the bill. The most controversial element of the farm bill has been the different House and Senate approaches to SNAP.
The House Republicans’ farm bill would have forced states to impose work requirements for SNAP (food stamps) on older workers, those aged 49 to 59, as well as parents with children ages 6 to 12. According to an estimate by Mathematica Policy Research, those proposals would result in benefit cuts for up to 1.1 million households, although conservatives and Republicans contest those numbers. The final version of the farm bill made none of those changes.
The final bill does include several new changes to the SNAP program, though none will restrict families’ food assistance benefits. The final farm bill also eliminates an awards program that gave states up to $48 million a year in federal funding for high performances related to program access and payment accuracy. We wrote about the benefits of this awards program last month.
A few new additions to the bill include:
  • Expanded farm subsidies
  • No additional impact on the deficit 
  • Provides permanent funding for farmers markets and local food programs
  • Legalizes hemp production
Finally, Congress’ Farm Bill did not bind the White House on SNAP. President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law on December 20th. That same day, the administration announced its intention to cut SNAP without approval from Congress. The new farm bill does not prevent the White House from taking such action. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a proposed rule that would undermine states' ability to provide SNAP benefits for unemployed and underemployed people in areas without enough jobs.
If the administration’s proposed rule causes you concern, REGISTER NOW for a webinar on Tuesday, January 8 at 3:00 p.m. to learn more about a campaign to stop this SNAP rule change from happening. The Food Research and Action Center is cohosting the webinar with Feeding America, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Center for American Progress.
National Conference Dates
The Community Action Partnership’s, 2019 Management and Leadership Training Conference will be January 16 – 18, 2019 in New Orleans, LA. Click here for more information. Registration is $560 per person.
The National Community Action Foundation’s 2019 Annual Conference will be March 19 – 22, 2019 in Washington, DC. Click here for more information and click here to reserve your hotel room. Registration is $575 per person or $725 for the pre-conference session and general conference admission.
The Community Action Program Legal Services’ 2019 National Training Conference will be June 19 – 21 in Charlotte, NC. Click here for more information. Early bird registration is $595. Registration opens in March.
Work Ready Helps Mother of Three Discover Hope
As Ruth was making plans to enroll in nursing school to earn her degree, the unexpected happened – Ruth suffered from a stroke. On New Year’s Day, 2016, her second stroke occurred.

Because of her diagnosed neurological disorder, Ruth’s employment options were limited. “I felt like there was no hope,” Ruth commented. “I could no longer do any of the types of work that I had experience with. I was lost. But then I became involved with Union-Snyder CAA.”

Union-Snyder Community Action’s Work Ready program helped Ruth meet her educational goals and find a career that's right for her. Click here to read Ruth's story.
2019 Learning Community Applications are Now Live
The Learning Community is the hub for the CSBG Network to share innovative approaches and access proven strategies to move families and communities forward. Comprised of topical Learning Community Groups (LCGs), members of The Learning Community consist of a cadre of agencies that are currently working on a program or service delivery strategy related to specific anti-poverty focus areas. 
The Learning Communities Resource Center is offering four new Intensive Learning Community Groups (LCGs) in 2019. Intensive LCGs (9-12 month engagement) include:
  • Community Economic Development: Social Enterprise
  • Results at the Community Level: Collective Impact
  • Health Intersections
  • Implementing Innovative Practices (participation in a 2018 Intensive LCG is a prerequisite) 
Through Community Action Academy (Moodle) and the Partnership's various online platforms, Learning Community members will have access to a wealth of evidence-based resources, on-demand video, publications, self-paced activities/assignments, online peer engagement and MORE!
Click here to apply. Applications are due by January 25, 2019. For sign-up instructions, click here. Please contact Tiffney Marley at tmarley@communityactionpartnership.com with any questions.
Childhood Trauma’s Lasting Legacy
While poverty affects a significant portion of Americans, children are more likely than adults to live in poverty. In 2017, it is estimated that 1 in 4 American children were living in poverty. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 1.3 million children under the age of 9, 42% of whom are low-income. Children born into poverty often face poor living conditions, low quality education, lower high school and college graduation rates, frequent moves,  fewer resources, higher rates of chronic illnesses, and a life with the constant stresses that poverty brings. 
Contrary to the “American Dream,” it can be extremely difficult to achieve economic mobility in the United States. In part, this is due to the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty, in which a child raised in poverty continues to live in poverty as an adult. Much of this persistent poverty can be attributed to the long-term effects of early childhood experiences. Early experiences serve as the foundation for continued childhood and adult development. When children experience trauma, they are unable to build strong and healthy foundations to help them thrive as adults. Instead, these early experiences contribute to poor educational outcomes, physical health challenges, and impaired brain development, which all hinder the ability to escape poverty as an adult.
Implications of impacted brain development as a result of trauma include increased anxiety, worsened memory, and impaired mood control, all of which make learning, solving problems, and impulse control more challenging. Poor families do not have the same financial resources to invest in their children’s education as their more affluent peers, further putting them at a disadvantage in the classroom and beyond.
The experiences our children have growing up will help pave the way for future success and failure. In order to ensure a successful future for our communities, it is imperative that resources like quality child care and trauma informed communities are in place to help impoverished children build healthy foundations on which to build healthy habits and skills. While the “American Dream” promises success based on hard work and perseverance, it is just a dream.  In order to revitalize the American Dream, we need to continue to invest in programing that helps children with limited means to succeed, essentially evening the playing field so that childhood experiences and circumstance do not adversely affect the ability for Americans to succeed as adults. If we fail to make these investments, breaking the cycle of poverty will be much more difficult to accomplish for the 42% of Pennsylvania children that are in low-income families, continuing a legacy of intergenerational poverty.
See Pennsylvania’s Early Childhood Profile here.
Study Reveals Children Today Are Less Likely to Earn More Than Their Parents
Success defines the American Dream. The idea that any person can become successful in this country has been an integral piece of American history. However, this underlying principle of the American Dream has diminished over years. Children are the back bone of our country’s future and it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to succeed. A recent study revealed that absolute income mobility rates have dropped to 50% amongst children born in the 1980’s compared to the 92% rate of their parents who were born in the 1940’s. Absolute mobility is the rate at which children will earn more income annually than their parents. Rates have dropped in all 50 states and across the entire income distribution. In fact, the largest decline of mobility rates has been among middle class families.
The study was released by Harvard economist Raj Chetty and Opportunity Insights, an organization that develops research data and tools on economic mobility in America. The overarching purpose of the study was to identify and analyze intergenerational mobility rates of parents born in the 1940’s and their children born in the 1980’s.  Adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, researchers compared household incomes of both generations at age 30. This study also analyzed economic trends to explain why income mobility rates have dropped significantly since the 1940’s. Variables measured during the study included inflation, taxes, income at later ages, changes in household size, GDP growth, and distribution of economic growth.
The study correlates lower GDP growth and unequal distribution of the wealth from that growth as causes for lower mobility rates. The 1940’s saw some of the strongest GDP growth rates of the 21st century. Since then, GDP growth has slowed down, and the distribution of GDP growth has become increasingly uneven. In Pennsylvania, between 1945 to 1973, the top 1% income earners captured 3.4% of overall income growth. Since 1973, the top 1% has captured 46% of all income growth in Pennsylvania.
The study simulated GDP growth rates, and distribution of wealth from GDP growth, to measure their impact on mobility rates. When simulating an American economy with GDP growth rates experienced in the 1940’s BUT with our countries CURRENT income distribution, mobility rates increased to 62%. In other words, if America’s current economy was growing at the rate it was in the 1940’s, today’s children would still be less likely to earn more income than their parents. Compared to an economy where GDP growth rates are the same but with a more even distribution of that wealth, mobility rates spike to 80%, a rate that hasn’t been seen in America since the late 1940’s. The study concluded that income inequality has been the strongest factor in the drop of America’s mobility rates.
Mobility rates in America could continue to drop if no measures are taken. One way we can mend our country’s mobility rates is through raising wages. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has stated through their research that wages for the vast majority of American workers have become stagnant since the 1970’s. In that same research study, EPI elaborated that stagnant wages have fueled income inequality, which in turn has become a detriment to current living standards across the broader middle and lower classes. To ensure a better future for our children, stagnant wages and our country’s economic divide need to be addressed. By addressing and working on these issues, the United States can raise its absolute mobility rates. Higher mobility rates will ensure a more financially secure future for our children, and hard work resulting in success can still define the American Dream.