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The Basics: WIC Saves Lives, Prevents Malnutrition

Congress established WIC in the 1970s to try to reduce disturbingly high infant death rates, and the program has been a success story ever since. Infant mortality rates in Alabama and nationwide have fallen by nearly two-thirds since the creation of the program officially known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

WIC has saved tens of thousands of lives and improved the health of hundreds of thousands, all while pumping billions of dollars a year into the economy. But WIC also sometimes runs out of money and has to remove participants until the next budget year. This fact sheet by ACPP policy analyst Carol Gundlach looks at what makes WIC so effective and considers some of the near-term challenges that may lie ahead for the program.

The Basics: Alabama's Meager but Vital TANF Program

The cost of living has increased in the last two decades, but federal money for temporary cash aid for very low-income families has not kept up. The federal government in 1997 froze its allocations for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, informally known as welfare. Since then, the number of families receiving benefits has plummeted in Alabama and nationwide, even as needs mounted during the Great Recession. Years of inflation also have eroded the buying power of Alabama's already meager benefits.

Fewer Alabama families are receiving TANF aid, and those benefits don't go nearly as far as they once did. This fact sheet by ACPP policy analyst Carol Gundlach details TANF's origins and structure, examines its eligibility requirements and considers how the program could do a better job of helping low-income Alabamians endure tough times.

The Basics: Child Nutrition Programs in Alabama

Many hungry children miss out on far more than regular meals. Hunger can do serious, long-term harm to a child's health and ability to learn, and childhood hunger is a bigger challenge in Alabama than in most other states. More than one in four of the state's children live in families with incomes below the poverty level, and more than one in five Alabama families with children say they have trouble putting enough food on the table.

Three key child nutrition programs -- the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program -- have been shown to help improve children's health and ability to learn. This fact sheet by ACPP policy analyst Carol Gundlach examines what these programs mean for hundreds of thousands of Alabama children and considers some ways the programs could serve even more hungry children.

AT ISSUE: Payday and auto title lending in Alabama

How much should people have to pay to get financial help in a tight spot? Payday and auto title lending are two forms of high-cost credit marketed toward Alabamians who are desperate for short-term cash. These loans carry triple-digit interest rates that can threaten the economic well-being of borrowers who fall behind on payments.

Read our issue brief here.

A fresh start: Debtor protections in Alabama

When people fall into debt, it shouldn't ruin their lives. Nearly every state endorses this simple idea by placing some limits on how much creditors can collect from people struggling to pay what they owe. But in Alabama, weak and outdated limits make it much harder for many debtors to rebuild their lives after a judgment.

Alabama's exemptions from debt collection are far lower than those in many nearby states. This issue brief examines how an update to the state's exemptions could give people who are struggling with debt a better chance to keep working and continue meeting their family's basic needs.

Auto title loans harm Alabama workers

Alabama lets auto title lenders charge an annualized percentage rate (APR)of up to 300 percent. The Military Lending Act of 2007 caps interest rates to service members (and their dependents) at 36 percent. Don't all Alabamians deserve the same consumer protection?

This brief by ACPP and Alabama Appleseed describes Alabama's auto title loan problem and offers real solutions.

456 percent should be illegal

Alabama law lets payday lenders charge an annualized percentage rate (APR) of 456 percent. Georgia, North Carolina and Arkansas have all said that consumer lending at triple-digit interest is an illegal exploitation of their residents.

This issue brief from ACPP and Alabama Appleseed outlines Alabama's payday loan problem and offers real solutions.

Immigration Policy Choices 2012

Alabama in 2011 passed the nation's harshest anti-immigrant law, HB 56. Designed to make life difficult for undocumented immigrants and cause them to leave Alabama, the law has had a far broader impact, bringing national scorn, widespread economic harm and personal hardship to citizens as well as non-citizens. The law disproportionately affects low-income Alabamians, regardless of their immigration status.

Read our issue brief here.

"Immigrants, Go Home!": Alabama's 2011 Immigration Law

Alabama has had its share of unflattering national spotlights. But it's been a while since the glare has been as widespread and piercing as it has been in the wake of HB 56, the state's new anti-immigrant law. Critics and supporters alike consider the new law to be the harshest among recent anti-immigrant measures across the country.

This fact sheet by ACPP policy analyst Stephen Stetson examines the socioeconomic and political factors that gave rise to the law and its far-reaching major provision.

Same Work, Less Pay: The Wage Gap in Alabama

Imagine the uproar if football officials suddenly were to declare touchdowns worth six points for one team but only five points for the other. Many workers both in Alabama and nationwide encounter just that sort of shortfall with every paycheck they receive. Despite decades of steady improvement, sizable earnings gaps remain between women and men and between racial minorities and non-minorities, both in Alabama and nationwide.

This fact sheet examines the history of wage discrimination, the scope of today's disparities and how an Equal Pay Commission could help Alabama close the gap.