CHILD CARE OVERSIGHT: Half of the states earn a failing grade when it comes to child care center protections and oversight, says a new report from an advocacy group. No state earned an "A" from the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. Garnering the highest overall scores were Oklahoma , Washington, D.C. , Illinois , Massachusetts and Florida . Idaho had the lowest score, followed by Louisiana , California , Nebraska and Kansas . The group wants Congress to beef up the Child Care and Development Block Grant program by requiring background checks for all child care center employees and unannounced inspections.
FOOD STAMP GROWTH: Before the recession hit, Idaho, Nevada
had some of the lowest rates of food stamp use in the nation. Now these three states have the nation's fastest growth rates in participation in the federal program, the Wall Street Journal
reports. Meanwhile, a bill designed to stagger the monthly release of food stamps to help ease the stress on grocery stores is making its way through the Idaho House, says The Associated Press.
HOUSING CUTS: Lost in the high-stakes battle over Governor Jerry Brown's proposal to eliminate the state's redevelopment agencies is the fate of affordable housing, reports the San Jose Mercury News
. Hundreds of thousands of California
's low- and moderate-income residents have benefited from a program that forces redevelopment agencies to allocate 20 percent of their revenue to affordable housing. Brown's proposed budget doesn't include a plan to fund low-income housing. Meanwhile in Louisiana
, Governor Bobby Jindal wants to consolidate several state programs into a single entity that would handle federal and state dollars for housing programs, The Advocate
PROTECTIONS FOR DISABLED: Lawmakers in Albany expressed outrage over a New York Times
investigation detailing cases of abuse at state-run group homes for the developmentally disabled, vowing to seek criminal prosecution of workers and to introduce legislation improving oversight. The Times
reviewed hundreds of cases in which employees who sexually abused, beat or taunted residents usually did not lose their jobs, and in many cases were moved to other state-run group homes.
CHARITIES CONCERNED: Homeless shelters and soup kitchens may lose a small but important perk under Michigan
Governor Rick Snyder's proposal that would eliminate tax credits for people who make small donations, The Detroit Free Press
reports. Under the current system, a couple who donates $400 would earn a federal tax deduction and get $200 back from the state. The state credit would go away under Snyder's plan, raising concerns among nonprofits that rely on individual donations.