Nelson named 2015 ‘Champion for Children’

September 14th, 2015|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, was named a 2015 “Champion for Children” for her work on restoring funding for essential food and family assistance in the 2015 Budget, which was cut during the Great Recession.

Nelson, who was central to the 2015 budget negotiations, fought to ensure an increase in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding, and supported an amendment that would have restored the full 15 percent that was cut during the recession. The final budget restored 9 percent of what was lost in the recession years.

In their award announcement, the Children’s Alliance cited Nelson’s tireless efforts to ensure food assistance funding be restored, saying “Her impassioned speech [on TANF funding restoration] signaled her strong support for the food assistance program, which she described as critically important to her district and to the state.”

While the state and nation move further from the Great Recession, that recovery is still not being felt by many who were hit the hardest by it. There are over 30,000 homeless school aged children in Washington, and one in five kids in this state lives in a household that struggles to put food on the table. One in six Washingtonians – half of whom are children – relies on the federal food assistance program (SNAP) to help with meals for their family. And despite an improving economy statewide, restoration of recession era cuts to TANF have been extremely difficult to pass in the Legislature.

Studies show hunger has long-lasting and negative effects on children, including being linked to increased hospitalizations, developmental problems, headaches, stomachaches and even colds. Children who come from food-insecure homes are more likely to struggle in school and are 90% more likely to have their overall health reported as “fair/poor” rather than “excellent/good” than kids from food-secure homes.