With wait times improving, D-SNAP is still an option

With wait times improving, D-SNAP is still an option

After a storm, the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as D-SNAP, is often critical in helping Louisianans recovering from natural disasters to refill their fridges and to free up resources for other pressing recovery-related needs. But in the wake of Hurricane Ida, administrative challenges at the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) led to unreasonable wait times for call-in D-SNAP applications — required for Louisianans to access the benefit. Now, DCFS has extended call-in hours into the morning and afternoon to reach more families applying for aid. Mark Ballard of the Advocate has the story:

The tsunami of calls led to a flood of criticism as people tried and failed to make the connection necessary to apply for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, D-SNAP. On Monday, the first day of applications, the wait time was 2 hours 21 minutes for those lucky enough to get through. (…)The agency is extending call-in hours for those Phase 1 applicants who found it difficult to get into the phone tree earlier this week. “We want to continue to stress that it’s imperative that you only call if it’s your day – and your week – to call. If not, it jams the lines for everyone else,” said (Sean) Ellis of DCFS. “And if you get a busy signal, please be patient and wait a few minutes before trying again.”

If you or anyone you know has been impacted by Hurricane Ida and is in need of nutrition assistance, you can text LADSNAP to 898-211 or visit www.dcfs.la.gov/DSNAP.

An Earnings Requirement for the Child Tax Credit is a terrible idea
The American Rescue Plan Act dramatically expanded the Child Tax Credit, providing a monthly stipend to many more families in need and cutting child poverty in half. But as lawmakers on Capitol Hill debate extending this credit in the Build Back Better Act, some are calling for changes that would gut its value for children with the deepest need. The earnings requirement that Senator Joe Manchin has proposed would deny the most vulnerable children and families the benefits of this transformative program. A recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlights how such a requirement would perpetuate racial inequities in America:

Prior to the Rescue Plan expansion, about half of Black and Latino children received a partial credit or no credit at all because their incomes were too low, compared to about a fifth of white children. About half of children in rural (i.e., non-metropolitan) communities were also excluded from the full credit due to their family’s low income. These facts reflect sharp disparities in the educational and employment opportunities available to Black, Latino, and rural communities, driven in part by systemic racism. The nation’s high child poverty rate and gaping racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities in child poverty have translated into lost opportunities for millions of children and lost contributions to the nation as a whole.

A nightmare years in the making for New Orleans juvenile detainees
When Hurricane Ida struck, the people in charge of the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center in New Orleans illegally evacuated the children in their care to an adult prison. New reporting by Rachel Mipro of the Louisiana Illuminator highlights the horrific impacts of this decision and shows that since 2018, New Orleans evacuation plans for juveniles have always depended on the illegal use of adult facilities:

“They were clearly held in an adult jail or lockup, and they were clearly in the physical custody and control of [the prison system],” [Hector] Linares, [a Loyola University law professor] said. “In addition to the statutory violation, I think there’s a constitutional violation as well.” One parent whose child was evacuated to the adult prison said she wasn’t contacted by the center about the whereabouts of her child until the evacuation was over. She found out her 17-year-old had been at Hunt when he called her days after he had returned to New Orleans, on Sept. 11. She said her son told her his experience at Hunt was horrible, and that he saw an adult inmate while he was there.

Inequitable implementation of vital safety net programs in the South 
In 2020, when Covid-19 hit, America’s safety net effectively kept millions out of poverty, largely a result of massive federal infusions of direct cash assistance. But while most safety-net programs are federally funded, states have broad authority over how those programs are implemented, and in the South, this too often results in benefits failing to reach the people who need them the most, especially households of color.  A new report by the Center for American Progress highlights how regions with greater populations of color, such as the South, tend to have comparatively weak safety-net policies, and outlines steps the federal government can take to improve the conditions of America’s low-income working families, wherever they happen to live:

Evidence shows that safety net programs that boost earnings for low-income families improve immediate and long-term health, educational, and career outcomes for adults and children. Because some state and local governments will, unfortunately, continue to deprive their residents of critical protections and supports, the federal government should establish positive minimum standards that elevate benefits and coverage nationwide to truly meet the needs of underserved Americans everywhere.

Number of the Day
87,000 – The number of uninsured Louisianans who stand to gain health coverage if key health insurance provisions in the Build Back Better legislation are enacted (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)