SC awarded AoA Grant to Assist Seniors Access Legal Services

Just a little while ago, I was on a conference call with representatives from California, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Vermont as we discussed 2009 Model Approach Grants awarded to our respective states. The press release is below:

AoA-Grants.Announcement-09_18_09

Exciting news for SC and access to justice for senior South Carolinians!

-RFW

POVERTY: SC

Is this our future?

Poverty + SC = 4Ever
Poverty + SC = 4Ever

Is this what we want for our future?

Recently I’ve been referred to a few poverty resources that I want to share.

  1. A powerful video (by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) sent to me by Shannon Scruggs of the SC Bar Foundation.
  2. Poverty in America has published its LIVING WAGE CALCULATOR, an interactive online tool.

When I pulled up South Carolina, 10 of the 22 occupational areas had typical hourly wages within the poverty range.

Almost half. Almost half of the people going to work every day in South Carolina are working for wages that keep them in poverty.

That’s scary! Especially when most of us consider that employment helps to break the poverty cycle. It’s daunting when you think that the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission was set up expressly to ensure that people living in poverty receive equal access within the civil court system. Essentially one of the unspoken beliefs is that full access to the same legal rights helps lift people out of poverty.

It’s certainly time for us to wage a war on poverty.

  • People living in poverty face barriers within the public education system.
  • People living in poverty face barriers within the public health care system.
  • People living in poverty face barriers within the civil and criminal justice systems.

If people going to work everyday remain in poverty, then how can we expect to break the cycle of injustice? Educational injustice. Health care injustice. Civil and criminal injustice.

And yes, I’m familiar with the saying that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, but if Madame Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton will forgive my paraphrase/alteration/juxtaposition of  it takes a village to raise a childit is much easier to eat the elephant if the whole village takes one bite.

In order for us to break the poverty cycle, it will take effort from each of us.

Please join.

-RFW

SC Ranks Between NY and CA

South Carolina Ranks 39th in Child Homelessness

According to the National Center on Family Homelessness State Report Card on Homelessness, South Carolina ranks 39th overall in Child Homelessness. The Center measured factors such as the extent of child homelessness (SC ranks 25), child well-being (SC ranks 35), risk for child homelessness (SC ranks 38) as well as state policy and planning.

In the national study, Connecticut ranked number 1 and Texas ranked last.

South Carolina ranked in the bottom half of the states overall, in between New York ranked at 38 and California ranked at 40.

In the 220 page report, the definition of homeless children is from birth to age 18 who are accompanied by one or more parents or caregivers. Runaways or throwaways are not included in the count.

~ Each year more than 1.5 million of our nation’s children become homeless ~

From the Report itself:

Extent of Child Homelessness: Counting homeless children is important because it helps us understand the scope of the problem, which drives planning and policy efforts. The percentage of homeless children identified in each state was used as one of the four domains in the Report Card. This was based on school data collected through a mandate of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.17

Child Well-Being: For the purposes of the Report Card, child well-being was determined by three factors: food security, health outcomes, and educational proficiency. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Survey of Children’s Health, McKinney-Vento Academic Progress Reports, National School Lunch Program, and the National Assessment of Education Progress were used to create state scores on child well-being.

Risk for Child Homelessness: By creating an index of risk for each state based on generosity of benefits, household structure, housing market factors and extreme poverty, structural factors contributing to homelessness were included in the composite score. The index of  risk reflects the growing gap between rich and poor Americans and the decreasing number of households that can afford the increasing cost of housing. As their purchasing power has also decreased, millions of Americans must choose between housing and other basic necessities. With the current economic downturn and the staggering increase in housing foreclosures, more and more families are likely to become homeless.

Policy and Planning Efforts: This domain includes a state-by-state review of housing, income, education, and health policies and planning activities related to child homelessness. A total score was computed based on various efforts in these critical areas.

It’s an easy website to maneuver and well-worth your time to explore and use the interactive map and at least review the short reports on your own states. For the short South Carolina report, click here. For the long South Carolina report, click here. For the full report’s Executive Summary, click here. For the full report, click here.

-RFW

Wanted: Mo’ Money

mo-money1

This sentiment isn’t unique to the Legal Services however it is time to take a moment to see the effect of the economy on legal service provision in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Bar Foundation released its Winter 2009 Brief and the following information is taken from there.  To view the brief online, click here.

 In July 2007: Monthly IOLTA revenues at all time high; currently they are 80% lower than peak. Last year, 96% of Foundation support came from IOLTA.

In the current grant cycle (July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009), originally the SC Bar Foundation awarded $5.4 million to legal service providers. Mid-year cuts resulted in $4.0 million in awards, a reduction of $1.4 million. Due to the unprecedented loss sustained by grantees, the SC Bar Foundation decided to utilize $1.5 million in reserve funds to prevent further reductions to current grantees.

At this time the future prediction for total IOLTA revenues is less than $2.0 million. The effect of this continuing drop in revenues – grantees are and will continue to reduce work forces, some may have to close.

What can you do?

Please consider donating to the South Carolina Bar Foundation which is a 501(c)3 Public Charity. The SC Bar Foundation is the charitable arm of the South Carolina Bar.

-RFW