As a nation, what better investment opportunity do we have than our children?

Our nation’s investments in children’s health, particularly in their earliest years of life when the foundations of adult health are set into place, have proven returns. But beyond gains in economics and social productivity, taking our best care of children is our duty. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired at the end of September, is essential in delivering on that responsibility. Nearly three months later, lawmakers have still yet to come to an agreement on how to extend long-term funding for a program that ensures life-saving care for 6 million children.

Despite inspired passionate pleas from families, delayed action on CHIP jeopardizes children’s health coverage across the country.

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The KC Star: Children in foster care in Kansas and Missouri deserve better

When it comes to foster care, the challenges never go away.

Low pay. Too few families willing to help. Soaring numbers of kids in the system. High caseloads for workers keeping watch.

The good news: Well-positioned advocates in Kansas and Missouri are pledging to push anew for reforms to safeguard our most vulnerable children. That’s critical and a foundational responsibility of our state governments. After all, it was Hubert Humphrey who once saidthat the moral test of any government is how it treats its elderly, the sick and, of course, its children.

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Hickenlooper makes emergency plea for lawmakers to extend children’s health insurance program

Colorado may use state money to extend the life of a health insurance program for children, as Congress continues to delay reauthorizing the federal funds that normally pay for it.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday sent an emergency request to lawmakers to dip into state coffers and extend the life of the program for one month — until the end of February. The program, which in Colorado is known as the Children’s Health Plan Plus, is currently set to end on Jan. 31 unless Congress reauthorizes the money for it.

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With Children’s Health Program Running Dry, Parents Beg Congress: ‘Do the Right Thing’

WASHINGTON — With more and more states running out of money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, parents took their case to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, pleading with Congress to provide money before their sons and daughters lose health care and coverage.

But the program, known as CHIP, which insures nearly nine million children, took a back seat as lawmakers raced to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut. CHIP’s fate, it appears, is now caught up in a messy fight over an end-of-the-year deal on spending that must be struck by Friday to avert a government shutdown.

“CHIP is being used as a pawn in larger debates and negotiations,” Linda Nablo, the chief deputy director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, said Tuesday in an interview. “It has fallen victim to the dysfunction and partisanship in Congress. And we are getting very close to the point where some children will also be victims.”

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We Measure and Are Accountable for the Things We Care About

It’s a fact: As a nation, we measure and hold ourselves accountable when we care about something. We hear almost daily about the Gross Domestic Product’s ups and downs, and we look to the GDP to keep us on track toward a productive economy. Policymakers use the jobs report each month to size up our economy’s outlook and decide if and when a stimulus may be needed. The interest rates and lending rates let consumers prepare their finances and make buying decisions. If something is important enough to us, we find a way to measure where we stand and use that both to make progress toward an important goal — and to take corrective action if we backslide.

So why don’t we measure and hold ourselves accountable for how well children in the United States are faring?

One of the reasons is that we don’t have a widely-accepted mechanism to track progress for kids and take corrective action when needed. Not coincidentally, services and programs that benefit kids and families are losing ground, and all of us are paying the price of kids’ declining health and educational readiness.

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Connecticut to end children's health program unless it gets money from Congress

Connecticut plans to shutter its health care program for low-and-middle income children Jan. 31 unless Congress provides new federal funding.

Congress let the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) lapse on Sept. 30, to the frustration of state officials and advocates. The program provides insurance to nearly 9 million children nationwide.

States have been getting by with leftover funding from the federal government, and so has Connecticut. But, according to a notice on the state’s website, its extra funding is expected to run dry by Jan. 31.

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We’ve tried sticker charts, a bigger bed, coddling. Nothing solves our toddler’s sleep troubles.

Q: My newly minted 3-year-old won’t sleep in his bed. We have tried everything. He has also started not wanting to be alone in a room if he’s playing. This seems like separation anxiety, and I’m not sure whether it’s a phase or something we should be working on with him so it doesn’t get worse. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, he screams, causing us and the 8-month-old to wake up, too. Sometimes his dad will go sleep in his bed, but most of the time, the screaming won’t stop until he’s in our bed, out of breath and sobbing. The baby messed with his sleep routine, but we have a well-established process again and have started using incentive charts, along with getting him a big-boy bed and making his room more comfortable. Is there anything else we should be doing? Are we coddling him, or should we keep up our routine and tactics and ride it out?

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Marijuana and Vaping Are More Popular Than Cigarettes Among Teenagers

Cigarette smoking has dropped so sharply among American teenagers that vaping and marijuana use are now more common, according to a national survey of adolescent drug use released Thursday.

The report, sponsored by the federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse and administered by the University of Michigan, found that 22.9 percent of high school seniors said they had used marijuana within the previous 30 days and 16.6 percent had used a vaping device. Only 9.7 percent had smoked cigarettes.

The survey of 43,703 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students in public and private schools nationwide raised concerns about the popularity of vaping devices, available in countless styles to appeal to different social groups. But it was otherwise optimistic. It found that teenagers’ consumption of most substances — including alcohol, tobacco, prescription opioids and stimulants — has either fallen or held steady at last year’s levels, the lowest rates in 20 years.

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Teens: Pretty Sober, Except For Marijuana And Vaping

The number of teens abusing drugs is lower than it's been since the 1990s, according to a national survey.

"In particular, we see a tremendous decline in the portion of young people using cigarettes," Dr. Lloyd Johnson, a study researcher at the University of Michigan, said at a press conference on Thursday. "The changes we're seeing are very large and very important."

But there are a couple of key exceptions. "[One] is marijuana. It hasn't gone up, like in older populations, but it hasn't gone down, and it remains worrisome," Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds the survey. "Another concern is we see very high and very fast uptake of electronic vaping devices."

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Kentucky Kids Could Lose Health Coverage If Congress Doesn’t Act

Kids enrolled in Kentucky’s Children’s Health Insurance program, known as CHIP, could lose their coverage in March if Congress doesn’t pass a bill to fund the program. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 92,728 Kentucky kids had health insurance through CHIP in 2016.

Kentucky’s version of the program is for uninsured children living with caregivers who make under 200 percent of the poverty limit — that’s $42,400 for a family of four. CHIP provides benefits for kids including dental care, hospital visits and speech therapy.

Congress allocates money for the federal-state program every five years. But on Sept. 30, lawmakers allowed CHIP to expire. Republicans proposed measures to fund CHIP that included cutting the public health fund created by the Affordable Care Act, raising premiums for some Medicare enrollees, and cutting the amount of money the federal government gives to states to pay for CHIP — provisions largely unpopular with Democrats. The measures stalled.

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