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Winston-Salem Poverty Thought Force Final Report

PTF-Final-Report-2-17-w

POVERTY THOUGHT FORCE

POVERTY THOUGHT FORCE FINAL REPORT _________________________________________________________________________________________________ through Durham to Mitchell and Buncombe counties, have developed MIECHV programs, with more than $10 million expended in the state to date. Building Healthy Communities. Building Healthy Communities is a ten-year, $1 billion comprehensive community initiative launched by The California Endowment in 2010 that seeks to change rules at the local and state levels so that everyone is valued and has access to the resources and opportunities essential for health: affordable housing and fresh food, jobs that are safe and pay fair wages, clean air, and the other ingredients essential for a healthy life. Building Healthy Communities began in 14 California communities and may extend its network of partners nationally. A link to the project in Santa Ana, Calif., (roughly the same population as Forsyth County—350,000) can be found in the online version of this report at PovertyThoughtForce.com. ArtPlace America. ArtPlace America is a ten-year collaboration among a number of foundations, federal agencies, and financial institutions that works to position arts and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities. In practice, this means having arts and culture represented alongside sectors like housing and transportation – with each sector recognized as part of any healthy community; as requiring planning and investment from its community; and as having a responsibility to contribute to its community’s overall future. As a “City of Arts & Innovation,” Winston-Salem would benefit from involvement in ArtPlace America. Resources and experienced assistance to our many vibrant local arts programs, ably coordinated by the region’s oldest Arts Council, would be welcome. Community/PTF Policy Recommendations Our Thought Force agreed on 56 recommendations across our five thematic areas. These were culled from several hundred ideas that surfaced during our six local World Café discussions. They were then reviewed by local advocates, experts, and PTF members, then rated by more than 200 community members. Details about each recommendation, including information about ongoing local efforts and community comments related to specific recommendations, are contained in Appendix A. EDUCATION RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Local churches or colleges/universities “adopt” elementary schools. Local churches and/or universities “adopt” elementary schools, providing a range of services: book drives, childcare, tutoring, etc. Individual and group relationships that are likely to result would create meaningful mentorships lasting into the schoolchildren’s adolescence. 2. Program connecting young residents with senior-citizen mentors. Pairing young people and seniors could help both. Seniors might receive lawn care and technological literacy, e.g., and in turn offer life skills, tutoring, and other benefits. 3. Universal Pre-K in City. Research shows lasting benefits for children who attend pre-school, including increased graduation and employment rates, and reduced incarceration. Currently around 1,300 area children are enrolled in Pre-K; would need to serve 3+ times as many (c. 4,500) for universal coverage. 4. Improve Transit for Education. Revise bus schedules and routes to ensure affordable (subsidized) and timely access to schools, YMCA’s, community colleges, universities and other learning centers. Enables greater parental involvement in schools, access to job training and gainful employment, and lifelong learning. 5. Mentorship program/employment-tutoring programs. Mentors would be younger Winston-Salem residents, who return to local high schools to provide tutoring, informal connections, and inspiration to students to stay in school and graduate. 6. “Career Days” at local high schools. With recruiters and volunteers from various professions, organized Career Days 16

POVERTY THOUGHT FORCE FINAL REPORT _________________________________________________________________________________________________ would foster intergenerational cooperation, empower students, and make use of existing structures instead of building anew. Career presentations underscore the importance of education for work and professional success. 7. Higher Pay for Pre-K teachers. North Carolina teacher pay is ranked 49th in the nation; preschool teachers’ mean annual salary is $25,530. Higher pay for pre-K teachers would attract more applicants and allow current teachers to devote greater time and energy to their students. 8. Community Service at Middle/High Schools. Existing ‘Life Skills’ classes could be modified to include community-service projects, coordinated across the school system for maximum impact. Students and neighborhoods alike would benefit from this engagement. 9. Incentivize Employment Tutoring Programs. Private and public employers incentivize staff to serve as tutors in local schools, raising awareness and encouraging connections between businesses and schools. HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Subsidize food stamps for healthier foods. Healthy food is generally more expensive than junk food. Enhancing SNAP values for nutritious foods would bring costs into alignment and encourage people to use SNAP to purchase healthy food. 2. Tax incentives for fully paid parental leave. A modest tax incentive for employers offering parental leave beyond currently-mandated time periods. San Francisco recently implemented such measures, to positive reviews. 3. Improve bus affordability, access & frequency. Improved bus routing—from lower-income neighborhoods to health clinics and supermarkets, e.g.—would provide primary (preventative and non-urgent care) and secondary health benefits, such as expanded access to healthy nutrition. Subsidizing bus fares for neediest residents is also vital. 4. Expand pro bono medical care There are several existing options; expanding these is vital to improving health outcomes. 5. Early maternal health programs for non-English speakers. Publicly-offered and well publicized health education programs for expectant mothers, offered in Spanish and other non-English languages regularly spoken locally, would reach a broader local constituency—and provide beneficial cohort effects among attending mothers-to-be as well. 6. Integrate parental health education into pregnancy classes. A sustained focus on maternal health is vital to enhanced infant and early childhood outcomes. More and better publicized pregnancy classes—featuring parental education on topics like breastfeeding, staying in school, postpartum depression, food preparation and clarification of misconceptions about vaccination would be the core of this initiative. 7. Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program to all new mothers. The WIC nutritional program should be offered for free to all new mothers as they leave the hospital or clinic, with information about eligibility requirements and how to apply. 8. Health education in early school & childcare centers. Developing healthy habits in young children can pay off exponentially. Allocating 15-30 minutes per day to health education, say before lunch or recess, could hold young children’s interest and attention. Costs would be low; this could be folded into existing curricular offerings. 9. Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, including extending continuous eligibility for children. Medicaid expansion would extend insurance coverage to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, with federal coverage of 100% of the costs until 2020, and 90% thereafter. 10. Mobile Care Clinics. Mobile clinics offer mental health support, reproductive health care, and other primary-care services. HOUSING RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Improve public transportation, expand housing options. Make bus stops more accessible (including widely visible route/schedule info) and align routes with jobs and homes of low/moderate-income riders. Encourage subsidized carpools. 2. Supportive housing program for vulnerable. A program could provide housing for the homeless, mentally ill, substance abusers, and other vulnerable groups. Case managers could help facilitate temporary or extended housing. Similarly, funding Rapid Rehousing programs providing assistance to individuals 17

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