Fighting Child Poverty in Oregon

May 12, 2005 at 7:52 am Leave a comment

Children First released a new policy brief, Strategies for Fighting Childhood Poverty in Oregon, at a Capitol press briefing today. Nearly 18 percent of Oregon’s children live in poverty, up from 14 percent in 1999. Living in poverty puts children at increased risk for negative outcomes. Parental employment does not guarantee an escape from poverty – in 64 percent of families with children living in poverty, at least one parent works part-time or more.

The report outlines a set of strategies to fight child poverty in the areas of child care, health care, housing, education opportunities and income security. Advocates from Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Oregon Food Bank, the Housing Alliance, the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force, and Oregonians for Health Security joined Children First for the release and provided a progress report on the 2005 Legislature’s efforts to address the needs of low-income working families. Updates included:

¨ Child Care – The Governor’s Recommended Budget includes cuts to the Employment Related Day (ERDC) Program. Both Co-Chair budget proposals restore the funding for the program. SB 779, which supports the professional development of child care providers, passed out of the Senate Education and Workforce Committee and has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

¨ Health Care Access – HB 2048 would restore the cigarette tax eliminated with the failure of Measure 30. The funds from this tax would allow for an additional 16,000 Oregonians to be served by Oregon Health Plan Standard. HB 2048 has been referred to the House Revenue Committee. SB 504 would create statewide standards for hospital charity care including publicizing the availability of assistance. This bill had a hearing in the Senate Health Policy Committee.

¨ Affordable Housing – The Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credit (SB 996) has passed the Senate and has been heard in the House Revenue Committee. The Housing Alliance is also advocating for increased funding for Oregon’s Housing Trust Fund.

¨ Education Opportunities – SB 768, which would implement a “Parents as Scholars” option in the state’s welfare program and allow postsecondary education to count as a work activity, passed the Senate Education and Workforce Committee and is awaiting a referral to a Ways and Means Subcommittee.

¨ Financial Assets – Several bills have been introduced that would weaken Oregon’s minimum wage, including removing the indexing to inflation and decreasing the minimum wage for tip earners and workers under the age of 18. HB 2046 makes the state’s Earned Income Credit refundable. This bill passed the House today. SB 545 creates modest limits on interest rates and loan amounts for payday loans; the bill has passed the Senate Commerce Committee and has been referred to the Senate floor. SB 968 and HB 2995 provide increase consumer protections for refund anticipation loans; both bills have had hearings.

Go to www.childrenfirstfororegon.org to download a copy of Strategies for Fighting Childhood Poverty in Oregon.

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