Friday, January 25, 2008

Action for Children Updates



Raleigh News & Observer
"Gubernatorial candidates to debate Saturday"

Four gubernatorial candidates will debate Saturday.

Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, state Treasurer Richard Moore, former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr and retired Air Force colonel Dennis Nielsen will meet at a forum sponsored by the state NAACP. Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, Salisbury attorney Bill Graham and state Sen. Fred Smith were invited, but will not attend, according to the NAACP.

The forum will be held at 3 p.m. at the Historic Union Baptist Church in Durham at the winter session of the NAACP. It is the first time the group has sponsored a debate.

"Normally candidates come by the NAACP and sometimes have an opportunity to say something or shakes hands," said Rev. William Barber II, head of the group. "But this is different."

The candidates will share the stage, answering questions about the NAACP's agenda.

Barber said the group would not be endorsing any of the candidates, but hopes to use the forum to stress civil rights and anti-poverty issues in the governor's race.

The debate will be broadcast Monday on WRAL.
"Civil Rights Group Seeks Riders for Tour"
Local Contact: Bruce Lightner, Martin Luther King Committee, (919) 834-6264,
For More Information:

Raleigh, NC --- Early this Spring 165 North Carolina citizens will journey into the deep south. Buses will leave from Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte. For the eighth consecutive year the Raleigh MLK Committee is sponsoring a bus trip to Atlanta, Selma, Tuskegee, Montgomery, Birmingham and Memphis to retrace the steps of Dr. King and other civil rights heroes.

During the trip, participants will visit the birth home of Dr. King and walk along historic "Sweet Auburn Avenue" in Atlanta and the Martin Luther King Center where his tomb rests. They will relive the experience the bravery of the people who endured "Bloody Sunday", then made the harrowing Selma to Montgomery March for voting rights, ordinary men and women who risked their lives to register Blacks to vote. Travelers will relive Rosa Park's nonviolent protest in Montgomery that inspired the bus boycott movement that helped open equal access to public facilities throughout America. Time will be spend in Birmingham and in Memphis to visit the National Civil Rights Museum and Lorrine Hotel where Dr. King was slain. This historic trip will be held April 1-4, 2008.

Tour package includes luxury bus transportation, entrance to 14 historic sites and 3 nights hotel lodging, fellowship dinner and an engraved souvenir tee shirt. Tour package is $298 per person. Citizens from any location may take the tour. There will be room for 165 riders (3 buses). Those who confirm first will be guaranteed seats. To view trip itinerary visit or call (919) 834-6264 to reserve space.

Washington Post
"Bush's Second Child Insurance Veto Stands in House"
By Christopher Lee, Washington Post Staff Writer

House Democrats failed for the second time in nearly four months yesterday to override President Bush's veto of a proposed $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

The 260 to152 tally left backers of the legislation about 15 votes short of the two-thirds majority of lawmakers voting necessary to override the president's Dec. 12 veto. Forty-two Republicans supported the override attempt, two fewer than in the previous effort to reject Bush's Oct. 3 veto of an earlier version of the bill.

Democrats argued that the nation's economic troubles made expanding a program that provides subsidized health insurance to children of the working poor all the more important.

"With the economy taking a sour turn, now is not the time to deny the most innocent and helpless Americans -- children whose parents can't afford health insurance -- what they so desperately need," said Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Republicans pointed out that last month Congress approved enough money to fund the program, known as SCHIP, through March 2009.

"There is no child currently on SCHIP that is going to lose coverage, regardless of the vote today," said Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Tex.), the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The fight over the program turned into one of Washington's biggest political battles last year.
Winston-Salem Journal
"Kids need physical education, activity"
By Richard Reinholz

KERNERSVILLE-- With prevention efforts on childhood obesity on the rise, there seems to be some confusion between the terms of “physical education” and “physical activity.”

Many times these words are used interchangeably but in fact they differ in very important ways. Understanding the difference is critical to understanding why both are important in the development of healthy, active children.

According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, each child in the United States deserves both a quality physical education and physical activity program.

Physical-education programs are best in providing opportunities of physical education to all children and to teach them the skills and knowledge needed to establish and maintain an active lifestyle.

Physical-education teachers assess student knowledge and motor and social skills and provide instruction in a safe and supportive environment.

The association recommends that schools provide two hours and 30 minutes of instructional physical education for elementary-school children, and three hours and 45 minutes for middle- and high-school students per week for the entire school year.

However, physical education should not be compared to or confused with other physical activity such as recess, intramurals or recreational activities.

Physical activity is bodily movement of any type and may include recreational, fitness and sport activities such as skipping, jumping rope, playing soccer, lifting weights and daily activities such as walking to the mail box, riding a bike down to a friend’s house or raking leaves.

The association recommends school-age children accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day and avoid prolonged periods of inactivity.
Charlotte Post
"Booze ranks high among young: Study finds pot use rising among black youth in Mecklenburg"
By Herbert L. White

Alcohol remains the drug of choice among Mecklenburg County's children, according to a new study.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Drug Free Coalition will release the results of its annual survey at a press conference to be held in the Government Center lobby on January 18. The third annual Indicators Report seeks to raise community awareness of the nature and extent of substance use and abuse.

"With the publication of this report," said coalition Chairman Paul Friday, "for the first time we have a big picture or a trend line overview of the nature and extent of our substance use and abuse situation. The data suggest that we have made progress in some areas but major problems remain, despite the dedicated work of individuals and the many agencies struggling to make a difference."

The study indicates overall alcohol consumption in the last 30 days by middle and high school students is up from 14 to 17 percent and 32 percent are binge drinkers. Sixty-five percent of college students under 21 say they’ve drunk alcohol in the last 30 days.

Another 34 percent of students were offered, sold or given an illegal drug over the past year – significantly higher than the statewide average of 27.4 percent and the national number of 25.4 percent. Young persons can purchase alcohol about 40 percent of the time here without being asked for identification.

"These are disappointing statistics for Charlotte," says Friday, a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at UNC Charlotte.

"Parents need to understand them, take them seriously, and be aware of what they and their children can do to counteract the situation. Everyone, including the community, has choices. The Drug Free Coalition believes that some choices are forever, so we all need to choose wisely."

Raleigh News & Observer
"MySpace to fight online predators: In New York, state attorneys general announce an accord with the Web site"
By Martha Quillin, Staff Writer

MySpace, the Internet equivalent of the coffee bar that never closes, has agreed to take steps to make it more difficult for sexual predators to find child victims through its site.

At a news conference Monday in New York City, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper and attorneys general from across the country announced an agreement with the popular social networking site that they hope will serve as a template for others.

The agreement, nearly two years in the making, includes a promise by MySpace to help develop tools to verify the ages and identities of its users, a measure that advocates argue will prevent underage children from setting up profiles on the site and keep predators from gaining the trust of young users by posing as people they're not.

"We're joining forces to find the most effective ways to keep young children off these sites and to protect the kids who do use them," Cooper said. "This agreement sets a new standard for social networking sites that have been quick to grow but slow to recognize their responsibility to keep kids safe."

MySpace, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., claims to have more than 200 million registered users worldwide. Other changes the company said it has made or will make in the coming months include:...

Asheville Citizen-Times
"Child care centers rate higher in '07"
By Ashley Wilson

ASHEVILLE – Child care in Buncombe County just keeps getting better.

That's the conclusion of a report by the N.C. Partnership for Children that shows fully 50 percent of the county's child care centers rated four or five stars in 2007.

Child care centers are regulated by the N.C. Division of Child Development, and five stars is the top rating.

"There's a lot of work to take place, but if they are willing to do the work than they are able to reap the benefits of the four or five star (rating)," said Alissa Rhodes, a quality enhancement specialist with Buncombe County Child Care Center. "It's saying, 'Yes, I run a high quality program in Buncombe County.'"

Fifty-six percent of children enrolled in child care in Buncombe County were in these highly rated programs in 2006-07, compared with 44 percent in four- or five-star programs four years earlier.

Environment is an important part of the state's rating. A team comes in to look at areas of each program, including materials, how its rooms are organized and how long children have to wait between activities. Evaluations are done every three years, unless a center requests one sooner.

Centers also receive a higher rating if all their teacher assistants have at least an associate degree and teachers a bachelor’s degree.

Rhodes works with Buncombe County day care centers on these issues in an effort to establish goals and achieve higher ratings. She also helps them maintain those standards after the ratings have been handed down.

"If they have a higher star rating, presumably the quality is higher, which means children are being better cared for and families are getting the support they need and children are getting ready to enter school," said Amy Barry, program manager of Smart Start of Buncombe County, which the N.C. Partnership for Children oversees.

Smart Start has been working with area child care centers to help them reach those higher standards. The program identifies early childhood needs and resources in the community and responds to those needs by developing and funding health, education and child care programs.

WNCW 88.7§ionID=2
"Poor still suffering from last recession"
By Jon Hurdle, Reuters

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Many of the poorest people in the United States are still struggling to recover from the effects of a recession that ended six years ago, making them very vulnerable as the country stands on the brink of a new downturn.

In 2006, the latest year for which Census Bureau figures are available, 12.3 percent of Americans were living in poverty, compared with 11.7 percent in 2001, the year of the last recession.

"It's unusual in an economic recovery that ... we still have poverty higher than it was in the recession that preceded it," said Sharon Parrott, a policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank in Washington.

This shows the poor have largely missed out on the gains made when the economy was expanding, Parrott said. The recent expansion was "much stronger for the people at the top than for people at the bottom."

Few places illustrate this more readily than Philadelphia.

Mattie McQueen, 43, put off paying her phone bill in December so she could afford a few Christmas treats for herself and her 1-year-old granddaughter, who lives with her.

"You've got to rob Paul to pay Peter," she said.

By holding on to the $162 that she owed the phone company, McQueen, a resident of South Philadelphia, was able to buy turkey, chicken, collard greens, and a few toys for her granddaughter, Mayliyah.

Without the budget adjustment, it would have been a cheerless Christmas dinner.

Below Poverty

McQueen, who is diabetic and unemployed, lives on welfare payments of $637 a month from the City of Philadelphia, another $102.50 every two weeks in supplementary social security for her granddaughter, and $89 a month in food stamps.

That adds up to an annual income a little over $11,000, well below the $13,690 set by the federal government as the official poverty level for a family of two.
Fayetteville Observer
"Prioritize: State must lure industry to impoverished county"

Robeson County has always been one of the state’s most economically disadvantaged areas. But things are getting worse.

Data released last week from the U.S. Census Bureau paint a disturbing economic portrait of a county where at least 30 percent of residents lived in poverty in 2005. And 50 percent of households have incomes below $25,000. The federal poverty threshold for a family of four in 2005 was $19,350.

The financial crisis is worrisome because lack of money exacerbates pre-existing conditions in the ailing community.

Residents, who often lack health insurance, have one of the shortest life expectancy rates in the state and the nation. The school system struggles to meet state and federal goals on a tight budget. And the county ranks high in child abuse cases.

Blame plant closings. Robeson County lost nearly 9,000 manufacturing jobs between 1993 and 2003. And while the county has gained some jobs since then, there is a major deficit.

Families dealing with the financial blows of lost jobs won’t recover soon. But, over time, the community can improve its economic forecast.

Things will immediately get better if the Lumbee tribe gains federal recognition. The long-overdue designation would make the tribe eligible for additional education, health care and economic-development opportunities, which would significantly benefit both the tribe and the regional economy. Unfortunately, recognition continues to elude the Lumbees.

Recruiting new industry is the only sure way to revive the community. But the county faces stiff competition for new business. Since most companies prefer to locate in the Triangle, the Charlotte area or the Triad, dozens of counties compete for whatever is left. And while North Carolina offers higher incentives to companies that locate in economically distressed areas, the definitions of distressed are too broad.
Charlotte Observer
"King's greatest dream remains unfulfilled: Much work remains to be done to end racism, injustice, inequality"
By Lewis Diuguid, McClatchy Newspapers

If the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had succeeded, racism, discrimination, poverty, injustice and inequality wouldn't still boldly assault the nation.

King's dream remains unfulfilled, and that's the greatest failing of the movement he led. Picking up where King left off is what people now must do as we celebrate the national holiday commemorating his birthday. He would have been 79 years old.

King was assassinated 40 years ago on April 4 in Memphis. To resuscitate the dream of the drum major for justice, each of us must take action. Some recent reports show that a lot of work needs to be done.

A study by Julia Isaacs with the Brookings Institution found that economic gains lifted many black families into the middle class following the civil rights movement.

But those gains have actually reversed for their children. The study said "a majority of blacks born to middle-income parents grow up to have less income than their parents."

Children losing ground

"Only 31 percent of black children born to parents in the middle of the income distribution have family income greater than their parents, compared to 68 percent of white children from the same income bracket," the study notes. "White children are more likely to move up the ladder while black children are more likely to fall down."Blame it on tightening affirmative-action programs, resegregation and diminished quality of education for children of color, family breakups, and discrimination and racism.

The report also said that in 2004 the median family income of blacks age 30 to 39 was $35,000, or 58 percent of the $60,000 for white families in the same age group.

Clearly the middle class of all colors has lost ground as Bush administration tax cuts have made the rich richer. But discrimination and racism stall black progress even more.

King in 1967 helped launch the Poor People's Campaign to demand jobs, better wages, a good education and other benefits for poor adults and kids of all colors. King would abhor today's wealth disparities and the shameless military spending.

The top 1 percent of Americans had income increases from 2003 to 2005 that exceeded the total income of the poorest 20 percent of people in this country, The New York Times reported, citing Congressional Budget Office data.

Fayetteville Observer
"Foster parenting requires training"
By Catherine Pritchard

Q: I’m very interested in becoming a foster parent. Who do I contact to get training and find out what I should know? — T.H., Fayetteville

A: Call the foster-care program at the Cumberland County Department of Social Services.

Its number is 677-2442.

You can also call NC KIDS at (877) 625-4371 or check

The site is operated by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. There, you can find general information about the state’s foster-care program and requirements of foster parents.

To qualify, you’d have to be at least 21 years old; have a stable home and income; be willing to be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal-records check; and maintain a drug-free environment.

You’d also have to complete 30 hours of required training and obtain a license from the state.

Foster families provide an essential service — temporary housing and care for abused, neglected and dependent children who need a safe place to live when their parents or relatives can’t take care of them. Note: Relatives may be licensed as foster parents.

More than 10,000 children are in foster care in North Carolina, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Foster families work with social workers and the child’s birth family to return the child to his own home as quickly as possible.

But in cases where the child becomes free for adoption, foster parents may be considered as adoptive parents.

Fostering doesn’t have to lead to adoption. And adoption of foster children isn’t limited to foster parents. For information about adoption of foster children, check index.html or call the NC KIDS number above.

At that Web site, you can view 177 case files of older foster children awaiting adoption.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"About second chances: Seventeen-year-olds are juveniles. So why should they be treated as adults when they commit nonviolent crimes?"

There are any number of compelling reasons why a 17-year-old who has committed a violent crime should be tried and, if convicted, imprisoned as an adult, though mitigating circumstances could intrude in cases.

But there are no reasons, compelling or otherwise, why a 17-year-old nonviolent offender who commits a minor crime should be treated as an adult. This is a recipe for turning a youthful offender into a habitual adult offender.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Rep. Donald Friske (R-Merrill) are proposing legislation that would treat such nonviolent offenders as what they are: juveniles. Currently, a Wisconsinite who is 17 or older and who commits a crime is subject to adult trial and punishment. This bill would raise that age to 18.

This would be good for both the young nonviolent offender and for the rest of us. But don't take our word for it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report in December that found that young offenders who are tried and detained in the adult system are a third more likely to be arrested later for a crime than those youths who go through the juvenile system. The Journal Sentinel's Dani McClain reported on the study in December (

The bill deserves full Senate and Assembly approval. Unfortunately, because a new tax is involved, that is not as certain as it should be.

The bill has a high-minded ideal. If 17-year-olds are going to be imprisoned, rehabilitation should be a goal. Currently, there is not enough of this going on in the adult system for these offenders, so it's not a matter of simply transferring funds from one system to another.

Thank you,

Action for Children North Carolina

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