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Legislature to consider making more schools hunger-free

CC by 2.0 via flickr user USDAgov

CC by 2.0 via flickr user USDAgov

We all want kids to succeed in the classroom. This week, the Legislature has the opportunity to fuel students’ learning by making more Nebraska schools hunger-free zones through LB 1066, which would include provisions of LB 1004 and LB 1065 through a committee amendment.

The underlying bill is the annual technical bill for education in Nebraska, and through AM 2640, would make important changes to allow more schools to take advantage of the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The CEP allows schools in high-poverty areas to serve free breakfasts and lunches to all students. Research shows that universal school meals increases meal participation and improves overall health and nutrition for students.

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Happy National VITA Awareness Day!

Credit: http://401kcalculator.org via Flickr. (License)

Credit: http://401kcalculator.org via Flickr. (License)

Everyone knows that figuring out how to file federal income tax returns can be difficult. That is why Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are so vital to know about: they are free tax preparation sites staffed by volunteers who are certified by the IRS, available for people who earn low-to-middle incomes of $54,000 or less annually, to those with limited English, or who live with disabilities. A trusted resource, the IRS found that during last year’s tax season 94% of the tax returns filed with the help of VITA volunteers were accurate.

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Work and Family Life: Creating a Better Balance

PFL.issuebrief

Click here to read our full issue brief, Work and Family Life: Creating a Better Balance.

No working parent with a sick child should have to choose between making ends meet at work and taking time off to care for his or her child. Senator Crawford has introduced LB 850, which would implement paid family leave in Nebraska. This bill will make it so employees will be able to take 12 weeks of job-secured leave to care for a new child (including a newly adopted child or newly placed foster child) or for a personal sickness, and 6 weeks to take care of a family member, a covered service member who is next of kin, or for exigency leave.

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New 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard finds the Economic Recovery is Incomplete for Many Families

HOC_BelowPovertyLine (1)

The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) released yesterday their annual Assets & Opportunity Scorecard. Every year, the Scorecard details how financially secure American families are, and what policies are effective in improving that situation. This year, they find that the current economic situation offers little chance for families to improve their financial stability. For example, one finding from the Scorecard is that nationally, almost half the American population are “liquid asset poor,” meaning that they are stretched thin enough financially that they have less than three months of savings built up to rely on if they lose a source of income.

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Legislative Update

Today marks the 9th day of the 2016 Nebraska Legislature, and this year’s short 60-day session promises to be an important session for kids and families in our state. In the coming months, the Unicameral will consider many bills impacting child well-being in the areas of child welfare, economic stability, health, and juvenile justice.

Throughout the session, we’ll be bringing you updates on the measures that will affect Nebraska’s children and families the most and let you know what you can do to help.

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OPPD Board: Vote Against Rate Restructuring Proposal

This past Tuesday, a letter of opposition to the rate restructuring proposal was submitted to the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Board of Directors meeting. Along with thirty-plus other organizations and businesses, Voices for Children has put our support behind this letter. While appreciate that OPPD has explored modifications to the proposal to lessen the negative impact on families with low-incomes, we are still concerned that the plan does not represent an equitable deal for all.

Today, the OPPD Board is voting on the rate restructuring proposal. We urge them to vote against this plan that would disproportionately affect families with low-incomes, or table the vote in order to allow for more time to consider alternatives.

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OPPD Rate Change Proposal May Disempower Low-Income Families

John Twohig via Flickr (license)

All families deserve to have access to reasonably-priced utilities, to keep the lights on and the heat running for themselves and their children. However, recent events have undermined that promise. This past month, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) has announced proposals that would increase the overall utilities rate by 4% starting January 1st of next year, and also would restructure the rates to gradually increase the flat service fee from the current amount of $10.25 per month to reach $35 per month in 2019. While OPPD understandably wants to ensure that the costs of delivering energy are covered, the rate restructuring plan has the potential to negatively impact some Omaha families.

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Payday Lending Creates Challenges for Nebraska Families

 

Pictures of Money via Flickr (License)

With low unemployment rates and high numbers of parents in the workforce, we know that Nebraska families are working hard.   However, sometimes hard work is not enough to pay the bills. When these situations arise, payday lenders are there to offer short-term loans. In these transactions, the customer gets cash up front, while the lender holds on to a check from the borrower with the loan amount, plus a fee, due on a certain day—usually payday.

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Voices for Children Testimony on LR 181

 

Earlier today, Voices for Children Economic Stability and Health Policy Coordinator Aubrey Mancuso testified on LR 181, an interim study to examine Nebraska’s workforce, especially in high need areas, and support personal responsibility and professional growth for all Nebraskans.  Voices for Children testified on the need to ensure that public programs are structured in ways that support families as they work to improve their financial security. You can read our entire LR 181 Testimony below.

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