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Alabama's strong participation in anti-hunger program is great news for 180K+ children
ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister issued the following statement Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's release of data showing that more than 180,000 Alabama children – nearly one in four of the state's public school students – attend schools that are using the community eligibility option under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to serve free school meals to all of their students in 2014-15:
"No child should go hungry. No matter where they grow up or how little their families make, all children deserve the chance to succeed in the classroom and in life. Community eligibility is a huge step toward making that goal a reality.
"Nearly 350 Alabama schools are seizing this opportunity to help students learn and thrive. Our state's schools are participating at nearly twice the national rate, and we encourage even more schools to take part next year."
The State of Working Alabama 2014: Health coverage in Alabama: Where we've succeeded and where there's work left to do
Alabama has enjoyed great success in recent decades in ensuring that children and seniors have the health protection they need, according to a new Arise Citizens’ Policy Project report issued Tuesday as part of The State of Working Alabama 2014. But the state lags behind the nation when it comes to insuring young adults, nearly 30 percent of whom lack health coverage.
"Child care, construction and food service are essential jobs that are often low-paying, and the people who do that important work deserve the protection of health insurance," ACPP policy director Jim Carnes said. "The Marketplace makes affordable coverage available for tens of thousands of Alabamians. Closing the coverage gap would insure hundreds of thousands more. It's time for our state to take this important step toward a healthier, more secure Alabama for all."
Alabama is 'star of the South' for insuring children, report finds
The number of Alabama children without health coverage dropped by nearly half between 2008 and 2013, and Medicaid and ALL Kids deserve a huge piece of the credit, according to research by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF). Alabama's number of uninsured children has fallen by nearly 11,000 since 2011 alone, a new CCF report finds. The state's estimated child uninsured rate of 4.3 percent is the nation's 10th best and the best among all Southern states.
"Alabama is the star of the South when it comes to making sure kids have the health care they need to succeed," said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University CCF. "It's a real tribute to the hard work of children's advocates like Alabama Arise and state health officials that Alabama has become such a leader on helping uninsured children."
Alabama's public transportation system needs a tune-up, report concludes
Alabama's transportation system forces residents to rely too much on automobiles and undermines the state's economic growth, according to "Connecting Our Citizens for Prosperity," an October 2014 report released by Alabama State University's Center for Leadership and Public Policy. Jon Broadway, Ph.D., and ACPP policy analyst Stephen Stetson are the report's authors.
Alabama is one of only five states providing no state money for public transportation. That lack of investment effectively isolates many residents who are unable to drive or lack access to private vehicles, the study finds. It also means Alabama is forgoing the new jobs that building and maintaining public transit options would bring, ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister said.
"Our state's current transportation system simply can't be sustained," Forrister said. "Alabama's failure to invest in public transportation means too many of our neighbors can't get where they need to go when they need to get there. That doesn't just hurt them; it hurts our entire state's economy."
Alabama's incarceration rate one of nation's five highest, up 349% since 1978
Alabama has one of the nation's highest incarceration rates, and the costs of decades of explosive growth in the state's prison population are increasingly consuming funds that could support health care and other important services, according to a new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonprofit research group in Washington, D.C.
Alabama is one of five states with more than 600 people in prison per every 100,000 residents, the CBPP study finds. The state's incarceration rate has jumped by 349 percent since 1978. ACPP executive director Kimble Forrister urged state officials to support safe, sensible reforms of Alabama's sentencing and parole policies to reverse that growth and to invest the savings in Medicaid, child care and other services that help low-income families improve their lives and escape poverty.
"Stronger support for health care, mental health care and substance abuse treatment can build stronger communities, cut costs and reduce crime in our state," Forrister said. "Alabama should invest in our people now so we can enjoy a brighter future tomorrow."
The State of Working Alabama 2014: The growing divide: Alabama's income gap is approaching Gilded Age levels
When the income gap between the rich and everyone else gets too large, the resulting inequality can threaten America’s foundations of fairness, equality and opportunity. Income inequality is deep in Alabama, and it has been getting even deeper in recent decades. Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent of Alabamians saw their incomes grow by nearly 159 percent. But for everyone else in the state, the average income growth in that time was just 20.5 percent.
Policy analyst Carol Gundlach's new report, part of ACPP's State of Working Alabama 2014 series, examines the growing income gap between the richest Alabamians and everyone else and considers the gap's implications for the state's economy and our children's future. The report also considers how Medicaid expansion, investments in education and infrastructure, and other public policies could mitigate the worst effects of income inequality and promote broadly shared prosperity for all Alabamians.