The election is right around the corner and while we cannot endorse specific candidates, we do want to equip you with meaningful questions to ask if you are attending any final forums or debates. The questions below cover a range of issues that are particularly relevant for vulnerable children and families in Washington State.
- How do you anticipate addressing funding for K-12 education in light of the McCleary decision and possibly I-1351? Would you cut health & human services or higher education funding to do so? Would you support new revenue?
- In 2011, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant was reduced by 15 percent. That means a family of three (one adult and 2 children) receives approximately $478 per month, which means making ends meet is extremely challenging. Would you be willing to support the restoration of the 15 percent cut?
- One effective way to prevent involvement in the state's child welfare system is to prevent child abuse and neglect through evidence-based home visiting programs* (such as Nurse Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers, Early Head Start andParent-Child Home). At present, only a fraction of families in need are receiving home visiting services. Would you be willing to support an increase in funding for promising or evidence-based home visiting programs?
- In 2008, Congress gave states the go ahead to extend foster care to 21 years old for youth who fall into five specific categories: still in high school, participating in a post-secondary program, facing a barrier to work, working at least 80 hours/month, and dealing with a temporary medical disability. The Washington State legislature has addressed 4 of the 5 groups and it is hoped that the final group (temporary medical disability) will be addressed in 2015. Would you be willing to support funding so that these vulnerable youth will be allowed to stay in care until they turn 21?
If you have any other questions you'd like others to consider, please add in the comment section below.
*Home visiting involves an intensive, voluntary parenting support program delivered in a family's home. Home visitors are trained professionals who regularly visit expectant or new parents to educate them about a range of parenting issues. Home visitors typically focus on prenatal and infant care, child development, parenting skills, literacy development and school readiness. Research shows that in a child's brain development, this early time is critical to later success in school and life.