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February 11th Newsletter – MASSCAP

Massachusetts Association for Community Action

Road to Opportunity: Finding the Way Forward
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MASSCAP newsletter – February 11, 2020

Honoring our Champions

The way forward requires working together on all levels - local, state and federal. We are fortunate to work closely with our state legislators to figure out "how" to best serve ALL MA residents.

In our public policy briefing last week, we honored four legislators who have been longstanding Community Action Champions: Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Senator Michael Rodrigues, Senator Bruce Tarr and Representative Paul Donato.  We thank them for their continued commitment and dedication to creating opportunity and fighting poverty in MA, particularly in the areas of early childhood education and care and fuel assistance.  We are thankful for the work you all do every day to create opportunity in our state.

READYGO: Readying Educators And Developing Young Children for Great Outcomes

During our annual public policy briefing last week, READYGO, a new early education and care workforce development initiative made possible through The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts (THFCM), was announced.  Dr. Jan Yost, THFCM President & CEO, spoke of the need for early educators to have the tools to address the increasing challenging behaviors of young children and challenging classroom dynamics that they are facing in announcing a $200,000 planning grant for READYGO.

The goal of this initiative is to maximize the early education and care experiences and the number of children receiving services by providing education and training in adverse childhood experiences, creating trauma-informed environments and acquiring behavioral management skills as well as to enhance the workforce career ladder for early educators and foster more equitable educational outcomes – read more.

DID YOU KNOW: Public Programs Reduce Poverty

Poverty is mostly a story of low-wage work and under-resourced communities. Incomes are flat for most except for the top 1% whose incomes have more than quadrupled.  However, we know that policies and programs do work:

  • Public Programs cut poverty approximately in half in MA - keeping 920,000 (including +200,000 children) out of poverty.
  • Heating Help Programs including Fuel Assistance (LIHEAP) and Energy Efficiency Programs helped 160,000 households in MA last year including 35% children and 47% elderly.
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) have kept 150,000 people out of poverty in MA.  Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, run by Community Action Agencies and other community organizations, help taxpayers access these credits while providing free tax prep.
  • Head Start served almost 15,000 children from more than 13,000 families (+10,000 served through Community Action) in MA.

For more MA Facts, visit www.masscap.org/communityactionworks.

For more information and to access all of the data, read our updated report "Obstacles on the Road to Opportunity: Finding a Way Forward for the Children and Families of Massachusetts" (updated January 2020)

POLICY MATTERS: MA State Budget Critical

The state funding for policy and programs are crucial in finding the way forward in Massachusetts. Please join us in supporting a critical FY20 request as well as our FY21 Priorities:

URGENT FY20 Need for Fuel Assistance

  • Increase funding for Fuel Assistance in FY20 Supplemental Budget ($15M).  Thank you to Senators Hinds and Tarr and Representatives Mark and Wong for leading DEAR COLLEAGUE letters in support of this much needed resource!
  • Learn more here and visit heatinghelpma.org

Strengthen Critical Human Services Infrastructure (FY21)

  • Support legislation (H179/S91) to address inequality, promote opportunity and end poverty. Authorize line item to strengthen communities and support Community Action Agencies ($5M).
  • Create a commission to address inequality, create opportunity and end poverty.

Strengthen Families: Affordable, Accessible Early Education & Care (FY21)

  • Increase Early Education Teacher Salaries ($30M)
  • Designate Early Education Federal Discretionary Funding for Rate Reserve Add-on to Address Credentialing ($24.875M)
  • Increase Head Start ($15M) and Child Resources Referral Access Management ($11.1M)

Bridge the Wage Gap (FY20)

  • Provide resources for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance ($800K) Learn more at www.masscap.org/freetaxprep
  • Expand Earned Income Tax Credit to 50% of federal credit ($460M)

Create a Foundation for Economic Opportunity (FY20)

  • Add State Fuel Assistance Line Item ($10M)
  • Support Unaccompanied Youth Housing and Wrap Around Services ($8M)

Learn more at masscap.org/policy-advocacy/priorities and read our Public Policy Priorities Fact Sheet.

CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION

We urge you to support our budget request for $15M in MA state FY20 supplemental budget for fuel assistance.  Visit heatinghelpma.org for more information about fuel assistance and the agency serving your area.

www.masscap.org

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