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"Each of us must come to care about everyone else's children. We must recognize that the well being of our own children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people's children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else's child will perform it. When one of our children is harmed by violence, someone else's child will commit it. The good life for our own children can be secured only if it is also secured for all other people's children. But to work for the well being of all children is not just a practical matter-- it is also right!" - Lilian G. Katz, Phd.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Politics as usual

Our current state political situation is a mess. We do not have a budget. People are losing vital services, including medical care. They are closing entire departments of the state government. Decisions are being made that will negatively affect the state for decades.
My job is in danger. Chris' job is in danger. My children's welfare is in danger. The people are starting to rise up, but no one in a position of power is listening.
Via PAFCO:

Imagine the Jobing.com arena full of the children turned away from child care for their working parents this year. The Legislature is filling every seat with a child denied care and their parents standing by, not able to work.  That doesn't make economic at all. These types of cuts are not solutions. Push back and resist these types of cuts.  They don’t make any economic or humane sense.  Contact your legislators.  There are options.  (By the way, the number of children denied care will exceed 17,000, while their parents lose work or go on public assistance (if that still exists).
OTHER proposed Human Services cuts
·         10,000 families (most female-headed) with 17,000 children are proposed to lose cash assistance --- for families already by definition very poor driving these families into deeper poverty effective April 1, 2010 if passed by the Legislature.  This is an attack on some of the poorest of the poor with no where else to turn.  Results will be increased homeless, desperation, illness, and family dislocation. 
·         11,000 on child care turn away list with many more to be turned away from child care with child care permanently closed for the foreseeable future stopping families from working and putting children at risk.
·         No 100% investigations of child protection or adult protection referrals and continued elimination of family support services.   The system of in home family services has already been cut severely in the 2009/2010 cuts and will now be cut even with more families losing services and their children potentially going into foster care.
·         Cuts in emergency services (eviction prevention, homeless prevention, etc) services for families in crisis effecting meaning 1,100 fewer families will receive emergency services.
·         Cuts in domestic violence services reducing service to 1,600 victims of domestic violence will be turned away from shelters.
·         Cuts in aging independent living services impacting hundreds of elderly and people with disabilities.
·         Eliminate support for grandparents caring for their grandchildren.
·         Eliminate state only supported services for children and adults with developmental disabilities throwing 300 children and 400 adults off services. 
·         Elimination of the Department of Juvenile Corrections transferring youth to county detention centers in the counties throwing almost 900 people out of work and dumping these youths on the local governments already overburdened with their own budget problems.
·         Implementation of many new fees and means testing for programs like adoption services for children with disabilities, services for children and adults with disabilities --- potentially leaving many children and adults at serious risk and costing more downstream as high cost services are used.  
·         A summary of proposed cuts and implications for the Department of Economic Security can be found at https://egov.azdes.gov/cmsinternet/uploadedFiles/Office_of_Communications/FY11_Executive_Recommendation.pdf?n=1089  

So what can a person do? I am trying to organize the power of a unified voice, but my time is limited. The children's advocacy network I am organizing is growing faster than I can keep up with it. Individual voices make a difference. Call, write, visit your legislators. Find out who represents you and what they stand for. If you don't like it, work to get someone in office who does represent you. Talk to people. The average person is too busy to pay attention until it impacts them directly. Guess what? This years budget will impact you directly, no matter who you are.

Political processes are not some far off thing. They are directly affected by us and are accessible to us. I will break down some of the ways to have a voice in upcoming posts.