April 22, single mothers protested outside the Ministry of Social Development building in downtown Vancouver at a rally organized by BC office of the anti-poverty group ACORN. The moms were speaking out against the BC government claw back of their children’s support payments. Read the news from News 1130 and the Vancouver Sun
Here are links to two sample letters you can use to let the Premier and the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation know that you want government to stop clawing back child support payments from the children of single parents on income assistance.
The first letter can be sent from an organization or an individual. The second is more for individuals. Please consider sending one or both and circulating them for others to use.
Sample Letter 1 to Premier and Minister re child support clawback
Sample Letter 2 to Premier and Minister re child support clawback
In 2015, the BC government will introduce the new BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit. This benefit is part of the Province’s Early Years Strategy, is a tax-free monthly payment of up to a maximum of $55 per month ($660 dollars per year) for each child under age six.
Benefits are based on the number of children in the family and the family’s net income. The maximum benefit will be available to eligible families with family net incomes under $100,000. The benefit will start to phase out at $100,000 and will be fully phased out at $150,000. About 140,000 families will be eligible to receive the full benefit, while an additional 40,000 families with family net incomes over $100,000 will receive a partial benefit.
This benefit will be administered monthly through the Canada Child Tax Benefit system, with payments starting in April 2015. To be eligible, families must file their 2013 personal income tax returns even if they have no income to report.
For more information visit the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s website
Read the information sheet
With Disability Clawbacks, ‘It’s Panic All the Time’: In this in-depth article, the Tyee’s Katie Hyslop tells how one single mom on disability “has considered stealing or sex work when her money runs out” and how the “cost-neutral” Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, “ forces parents on income assistance to act as middle men in transferring the $18 million in income assistance and disability payments every year between the ministries of justice and social development and innovation.”
Is clawing back child support good policy or just mean-spirited? What are child-support payments for? Should the money be solely for children’s needs? Or should support payments be regarded as the custodial parent’s income? Daphne Bramham from the Vancouver Sun considers these questions and explores the different arguments that government and child advocates have made about clawbacks to child support. Read the article
The Keeping in Touch enewsletter gives this excellent summary of Lynell Anderson’s keynote address (watch it here) at the UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) Fall 2013 Research Exposition. The senior researcher for the Generation Squeeze campaign at HELP, Lynell found that Canada lags behind most other industrial countries on international family policy rankings, including public investments.
Here are some statistics that Keeping in Touch highlighted:
“The introduction of universal health care and old age pensions a generation ago, together with a rising economy, was central in enabling us to reduce poverty amongst seniors from 29% in 1976 to 5% today. By comparison, child poverty rates nationally have remained high. In BC, child vulnerability today is at a similar rate to seniors’ vulnerability a generation ago. Increasingly we understand that our ability to provide effective health care and education services is directly linked to our ability to support healthy child development in the early years and other determinants of health … Her central point is that childcare, or early childhood learning is key to the time, income and service squeeze on families with young children.
“Public expenditure on Early Care & Education under 6 years (Canada includes child care and kindergarten/pre-K) expressed as a percentage of GDP, reported on by OECD, showed that Canada ranked last out of 14 countries. Canada’s investment was actually shown to be about 0.25% of GDP. HELP has made a more inclusively generous assessment at about 0.34% of GDP, but even these figures are influenced by Quebec. BC offers below the national average, at about 0.23%.”
Read the entire article from the Keeping in Touch enewsletter.
“ ‘Kids need places to go that are stable. When mom and dad are facing job uncertainty, and their home life is infused with stress, to come here and have a place where that does not permeate every aspect of living is really important,’ said Kate Langham, director of the Dze L’ K’ant Friendship Centre in Houston, which runs the Teen Empowerment through Awareness Movement (TEAM) Program for youth ages 13 to 18.
“But programs like Langham’s likely won’t be around by the time the mill shuts down in May. TEAM’s funding runs out March 31, and the Youth Empowerment Program, another Houston organization, will close its doors in June when its funds dry up too. The nearest youth support available after that will be in Smithers, a 45-minute drive away.
“With few funding options available in B.C. for established initiatives, the odds aren’t great for the future of these programs. It’s grim news for young people who, simply by virtue of living in B.C.’s northern interior, face more significant challenges than kids in the rest of the province.”
Read Katie Hyslop’s full article In Hard Luck Houston, Kids Lose Key Supports to Cope, in the Tyee, thetyee.ca
According to the Cranbrook Townsman, a local task force is conducting a child-care needs assessment to “seek public input on problems that families face in securing child care, and make recommendations on how to alleviate the issues.”
The task force has already conducted a survey that has demonstrated a need for childcare in the area. The lack of child-care spaces and the cost of child care are two major issues.
Thanks to the Keeping in Touch enewsletter for sharing this news.
If you missed this film by Maureen Palmer, which aired on March 27 on CBC-TV’s Doc Zone, make a point of finding it. Here’s a link to the trailer on the filmmaker’s website bountiful.ca/our-films/. Consider spending the $25 to purchase it to show in your communities.
What the Doc Zone website says about the film:
Angry Kids & Stressed Out Parents follows children and parents enrolled in three groundbreaking interventions. These programs work with parents and kids to help children master the skills they need to do well in life, like self-control and self-regulation.
Today there’s fresh urgency to invest in new solutions since, for the first time in North American history, more children suffer from mental health conditions than from physical ones. Parents are coping with staggering levels of anger, aggression and other behaviour problems. Experts in child development believe the problem is going to get worse, not better, because too many parents are too busy, too stressed, or too poor to invest in the most important time in a child’s life: the first six years.