Millions of Latinos Can Keep Their Health Coverage

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The Affordable Care Act survived the latest, and hopefully final, attack today with a highly favorable decision from the Supreme Court, which upheld the constitutionality of the federal and state market exchanges where Americans are able to purchase health insurance. In a 6-3 ruling, the Court said that all people who buy health coverage through federal or state exchanges should receive premium tax-credit subsidies if they meet eligibility requirements.

In the case of King v. Burwell, the plaintiffs had challenged the law, claiming that the provision was written in a way that only extended the tax credits and cost-sharing reductions to enrollees in states that had established their own exchanges. In the 34 states that have not set up their own exchanges, including Texas and Florida, two states with large numbers of Latino voters and families, about nine million people risked losing their subsidies.

Since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, more than four million Latinos have obtained quality, affordable health care. Today’s ruling now ensures we can move forward with the hard work of reaching the millions more who remain eligible for coverage.

“Today’s decision is a victory for the health and safety of our country. It means that millions of Americans, including Latinos, will continue receiving critical financial help to purchase a quality, affordable plan through the insurance marketplace,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía in a statement. “But the job is not done and our work continues, since one in four Latinos is still uninsured. We know that the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act is something our community needs and supports.”

We stand with other civil rights and health equity organizations in affirming the critical role the ACA has played in improving the lives of millions of Americans, including millions of Latinos.

“Given today’s decision, it’s time to stop trying to repeal or weaken the law and instead start working on substantively building on the gains we’ve made. There remain millions more eligible people waiting to benefit, including limited-English-proficient individuals and those from mixed-immigrant-status households,” said Murguía.

A Helpful Guide for DACA Renewal

More than 600,000 people have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and had their lives positively impacted by the temporary status and work permit. DACA recipients need to remember to apply for DACA renewal before their work permit expires. It’s always best to begin the renewal process early. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently shared the following information to ensure that the DACA renewal application process goes smoothly for everyone.

Follow these steps to properly fill out your DACA renewal:

  • File on time. Submit your renewal request between 150 days and 120 days before the expiration date listed on your current Form I-797 DACA approval notice and Employment Authorization Document.
  • Correctly submit all required forms and fees. USCIS will reject your renewal request unless you properly submit all of the following:
  • Avoid processing delays. Be sure to submit:
    • Any new documents and information related to removal proceedings or criminal history that you have not already submitted to USCIS in a previously approved DACA request
    • Proof of advance parole if you have traveled outside the United States since you filed your last DACA request that was approved
    • Proof of any legal name change
  • Respond to Requests for Evidence. USCIS may deny your renewal request if you do not respond to a Request for Evidence in a timely manner.

USCIS is mailing renewal reminder notices to DACA recipients 180 days before the expiration date of their current period of deferred action to ensure sufficient time to prepare renewal requests. For further instructions, go to the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals page.

You may submit an inquiry about the status of your renewal request after it has been pending for more than 105 days. To submit an inquiry online, please visit egov.uscis.gov/e-request or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD for the hearing impaired: 1-800-767-1833).

Use these helpful steps and reminders to ensure that your DACA renewal process goes smoothly, you avoid delays, and you receive your work permit on time.

A School Year in Review: Camino Nuevo Charter Academy

By Heather McManus, Principal, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy
(Cross-posted from the National Institute for Latino School Leaders blog)

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As another school year winds down, educators throughout California will reflect on the last 10 months of student progress, overall growth toward goals, and how we have changed as individuals and professionals. This year’s evolution was memorable for us at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA) as well as at many other schools across California.

This school year brought with it many celebrations and challenges. Wrapping up a $36 million construction project that was delayed for nearly a year, we packed up 15 years’ worth of school memories and moved into Belmont High School to experience a co-location. Co-location, also known as “Prop 39,” pairs up public charter schools with local public district schools that are underenrolled to share the space and school facilities.

Co-location can be challenging for all parties involved. Due to the expensive nature of land and real estate in California, Prop 39 remains an important option for many public charter schools in underserved neighborhoods. This year, the California Supreme Court impacted the law’s implementation in some school districts. In April, the Court ruled that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) had been violating Prop 39 and required LAUSD to make changes to ensure that its methods of allocating classrooms to all schools are lawful.

CaminoNuevo_pic5The past year also brought an influx of revenue directed toward public schools and a new state funding mechanism: the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Under this revolutionary model, schools receive a base amount of money, and those that serve a majority of students who live in poverty, are English language learners, or are foster youth receive a concentration and supplemental grant above the base amount. Historically, schools in the most needy areas operate on fewer dollars than schools in more affluent areas because they are funded by community tax dollars.

With the implementation of LCFF, schools are held accountable by creating a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). At Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, parents, staff, and students participated in budget meetings, surveys, and presentations related to the eight state priorities and CNCA-specific priorities. Our plan prioritized, among other things, providing mental health services, interventions for struggling students, and a well-rounded education. As the year winds down, schools are measuring progress toward the goals outlined in the accountability plan and writing updated versions of their plan for next year.

CaminoNuevo_Pic1Finally, this school year saw the first full-year implementation of the new California Common Core State Standards. These standards require schools to dramatically shift classroom instruction. This spring, students throughout the state engaged in the first round of the Smarter Balanced Assessments. At CNCA, students in grades 3–8 took four assessments over eight days and a total of 16 hours. They had to successfully navigate the new technology testing platform as well as more rigorous standards. While California will not use this year’s results in calculating the state’s accountability tool, the Academic Performance Index, at CNCA we are anxiously awaiting our scores to help us push our work forward.

In these final few days of the school year, we’re working to close it out while moving swiftly toward the next. We are already planning and hiring for 2015–2016 and look forward to continuing to provide students with an excellent education.

Here’s to a great school year and a restful summer!

When It Comes to Eating Fruit and Vegetables, Keep It Colorful!

By Elizabeth Carrillo, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR

Most of us know that eating fruit and vegetables is good for our health: they increase our energy, provide us with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, control our weight, and reduce the risk for chronic diseases and some types of cancer. Yet, despite this knowledge, the majority of us are still not eating enough of them.

Latinos in particular are less likely than other groups to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This is not to say that all adults should be eating five servings per day; in fact, the recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables depends on our age, sex, and level of physical activity. Nonetheless, few of us know what a “serving” consists of.

Servings are typically measured by the ½ cup and cup. Examples of one serving of fruits and vegetables include:

  • 1 medium whole fruit, such as a banana or an apple
  • 2 cups of raw leafy greens (1 cup if chopped)
  • ½ cup of cut-up fruit or veggies

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The key to getting the most out of our fruit and vegetable consumption is to eat a variety of them. We should think in terms of colors and strive to eat fruits and vegetables that represent a whole rainbow of benefits.

For example, red fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, red bell peppers, and strawberries contain lycopene, which may reduce the risk for certain cancers, and antioxidants that keep our hearts healthy. Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and mangos contain carotenoids, which also promote good heart health as well as eye health.

For our next meal, let’s remember to keep it colorful. Here are a few tips on how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into our daily lives:

  1. Keep fruit where we can see it. The convenience factor is a powerful thing. If it’s within our eyesight, it’s within our reach.
  1. Be adventurous in the produce aisle. Choose something new every so often. After all, variety is the spice of life.
  1. Save money by purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season or frozen. Buying seasonally will also inject some variety into our meals and keep things interesting.
  1. Start early. While it’s never too late to try new foods, starting earlier is better. The earlier children are introduced to fruits and vegetables, the more likely they are to continue consuming them as adults.
  1. Make it a meal. Try cooking new recipes that include more vegetables. Salads and stir-fry are two ideas for getting tasty vegetables on our plates.

 This blog post and infographic is part of Comprando rico y sano, a program supported by the Walmart Foundation and General Mills, Inc.