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Solutions for the South
volume 1 • issue 1 • november 2009 copyright 2009
Jeet Guram, USC Editor in Chief Awais Khaleel National Policy Director Editors Kevin Chang, UGA Rocky Cole, UGA Patrick Dever, Jr., UGA Aaron Sayama, UGA Marty Hyman, UNC Katharine Pelzer, UNC Nikki Rumley, UNC Jeanne Tilley, UNC Alina Arbuthnot, USC Peter Schaeffing, USC Alex Wang, USC Published online at www.rooseveltcampusnetwork.org.
The opinions expressed within this volume are entirely and exclusively those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of the editorial board, the Roosevelt Institute, or any of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network’s chapters, centers, advisors, or affiliates.
Solutions for the South
Letter from the Editor
During the 2008 Roosevelt summit in Hyde Park, New York, the Southern chapter leaders I met were a passionate and brilliant group. Though we had to go our separate ways after the conference, we wanted to continue working together in order to create something greater than any one of our chapters could create on its own. So I, Alex Wang, and Sydney Daigle from USC; Aaron Sayama and Bobby Rosenbleeth from UGA; and Libby Longino from UNC decided to harness the student energy across our campuses to publish a journal of policies targeting the most urgent problems affecting our region. Solutions for the South was born. Working with so many innovative students in developing this journal has been a privilege. Authors have written persuasively and editors have refined submissions with special care. The project has sparked activity across our chapters and has provided our region with a stage from which it can project its potential. The policies you are about to read meet the challenges confronting the American South with solutions deeply informed by an understanding of local realities. These ideas need to be heard. And I hope the bonds we built between Southern chapters in drafting this journal will continue facilitating productive collaborations into the future. Sincerely, Jeet Guram Editor in Chief
The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, a national student initiative, engages young people in a unique form of progressive activism that empowers them as leaders and promotes their ideas for change. Through communication and coordination with political actors and community members, students identify pressing issues facing their towns, counties and states. Taking advantage of the unique resources on their college campuses, they engage in policy research and writing and then connect the fruits of that work to the political process, delivering sound, progressive proposals to policymakers and advocacy groups. We call our unique model of policy activism Think Impact. Adding policy papers to picket signs, Think Impact engages young people in activism fueled by innovative, student ideas. Founded in the wake of the 2004 election, the Campus Network was formed in order to strengthen the progressive movement by meaningfully engaging young people in politics. Young people can do far more than participate in campaigns; here, students are asked to take action on their ideas and create an impact in their communities. It encourages them to campaign for the progressive policies that they have written. It gives them an opportunity to reshape their communities. It allows them to experience, first-hand, the power of progressive thought in creating positive change. And the Network empowers students to see themselves as progressive leaders in their own right. Today, the Campus Network boasts more than 7,000 members organized at approximately 80 chapters across the country. Chapters foster debate and dialogue on campus, teach policy courses, engage with local policymakers, generate policy, and promote student ideas through conferences and publications. Since it’s founding, Roosevelt members have presented student policies on Capitol Hill, testified to city council, implemented legislation, and worked directly in their communities. The Roosevelt Campus Network is a division of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of their namesakes for future generations.
Creating Local Newswires Stephan Allen et al University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Food Security in Durham, NC Laurel Averett et al University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Funding Richland County Buses Ryan Shelton-Benson University of South Carolina Subsidizing Alternative Biofuels Peter Schaeffing Univeristy of South Carolina Health I.T. for Southern CHCs Jeremy Ford University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill LEED Certification in Schools Michael Levy and Tyler O’Connor Emory University Inclusionary Zoning in Athens, GA Ellyn Echols University of Georgia Raising Taxes on Georgia Cigarettes Lucas Puente University of Georgia
Curbing Dropouts with P.A.R.K. Katherine Bogle et al Harding University Mandatory Impact Fees Rocky T. Cole University of Georgia Child Care Foundations Lauren Coleman University of Georgia Building a Faculative Bioreactor Malin Dartnell and Shanell Davis University of Georgia Durham Enrichment Project Jeff Gruber University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Building Effective College Access Nikki Rumley et al University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Simplifying Eligibility for Kids Tracy Yang University of Georgia Author Biographies
Creating Local Newswires
Stephan Allen, Ethan Bowers, Jeannie Burnette, Amanda Conklin, William McKeen, Katherine Littlefield, and Andrew Reynolds University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
There is a lack of media coverage of local government. By running a newswire service supported by a public university, students can inform citizens on critical local issues in North Carolina. The Internet and other electronic resources are increasingly used to access the news. In his book, The Vanishing Newspaper, pioneer journalist and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill professor Philip Meyer calculates that print news will die in America by 2043. In response, papers are downsizing and cutting staff who provide valuable coverage, diminishing the ability of sources to cover important local issues. According to the Newspaper Association of America, the number of people employed in the industry fell by 18% between 1990 and 2004.1 Small, local newspapers are in an especially difficult situation, lacking the resources and funding to compete with larger companies in a shrinking market. As news organizations lose resources to cover county and municipal governments, local citizens run the risk of being uninformed about local issues that affect them profoundly. A student-run wire service at North Carolina system universities would provide a way to get facts and firsthand accounts about local issues to the public. Background The North Carolina Policy Information Network (NCPIN), an online news server, would provide a central database for information on local news.2 It would offer a crucial resource for citizens who are otherwise ill informed about local matters because of the decrease in community coverage, thus enabling the citizens to play a greater, more knowledgeable role in their communities. By building partnerships with North Carolina’s higher education system and non-profit organizations, students can deliver timely, accurate, and bipartisan information about local government throughout the state.3 Students recruited for the program would have a background in Journalism, English, or Communications and would benefit by receiving firsthand experience in the field, as well as networking opportunities and academic credit. Participation in NCPIN would take place during a semester-long course in which students would report on the proceedings of local, county, and municipal governments. After gathering information, participants would then upload their coverage to an online server, which could be accessed directly by citizens or client news organizations.
Several universities have similar newswire programs. For example, Virginia Commonwealth University runs a newswire in the spring semester that reports on the proceedings of the state’s General Assembly.4 Students meet two times a week for story planning and skills development. They then are expected to spend at least ten hours outside of class each week reporting for one or more client newspapers; they receive three credit hours for their work. This year, the school added a companion course for students interested in editing the newswire. Capital News is another example of the type of program we aim to create.5 A student-led version of the Associated Press at the University of Maryland, it provides coverage of DC and Annapolis government proceedings through state and community newspapers, radio, and television. Analysis News organizations and the general public would have access to the NCPIN.6 It would also be of use to University of North Carolina system schools, other private colleges, central information-technology organizations, and public, educational television. It is in the best interest of these organizations to become involved with the service if they are to maximize community outreach.7 A proposed budget for the program calculates the cost of a professional to oversee the operation of the newswire to be from $22,000 to $28,000. Additionally, start-up costs, which include the promotion of NCPIN to news media and local governments across the state, are around $50,000.8 University support is also needed to establish a pilot program at a UNC system school. The “home” organization should have a significant and stable information-technology organization, and based on every day observations of classroom and extracurricular excellence, the students at UNC-Chapel Hill are well prepared to carry out the mission of the newswire. The long-term benefits of direct community involvement for UNC system students, faculty, and other organizations involved would far outweigh the start-up costs.
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
“Who Killed the Newspaper?” The Economist 24 Aug. 2006. 31 Mar. 2009 <http:// www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=7830218>. Each story would include a template with relevant documents and a student-written article. Corrado, Gail. Carolina Wire Service Document. Fifth Point Consulting Group. NCPIN. “About CNS.” VCU College of Humanities & Sciences. 17 Mar. 2009 <http://www. has.vcu.edu/mac/cns/about.htm>. “Capital News Service.” CNS | Philip Merrill College of Journalism. University of Maryland. 16 Mar. 2009 <http://www.journalism.umd.edu/cns/>. Fifth Point Consulting Group. NCPIN. A partnership has already been established with the North Carolina Center for
Voter Education in Raleigh, and the Policy Department at UNC has conducted a survey to discover what kind of news local newspapers need. Start-up costs would include website creation, database acquisition, media liability insurance.
Food Security in Durham, NC
Laurel Averett, Rainbo Hultman, Jeslyn Keziah, Sara Mishamandani, and Lauren Peterson University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Impact studies executed prior to new construction in Durham, NC, should include provisions that address the food security of the affected community as defined by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. Key Points • Adequate access to nutritious, culturally appropriate, and affordable food is critical for the health of every community member. • Food insecurity is the lack of access to nutritional food and effects 11.1% of households in the US.1 • Grocery stores catalyze local economic growth through job creation, taxes, and multiplier effects. • When authorizing construction, the local government should consider its impact on food security. • Food security should be assessed with the USDA Food Security Assessment Toolkit readily available on the USDA website.2 • This policy would be the first legislation in the south designed to prevent new construction from causing food insecurity. Background Food security entails access to sufficient food to live a healthy life at a cost that does not put a family in economic risk.3 Food insecurity - the inability to reach and afford fresh, nutritious food - is on the rise in many urban areas across the South.4 The consequences of food insecurity are dire, as food-poor areas have been linked to higher rates of obesity and diet-related illnesses,5,6,7 lower cognitive development in children,8 and higher rates of crime and violence.9 Grocery stores are more reluctant to open in urban areas due to the perception of crime, economic hardship, and lack of transportation for locals.10 Therefore, closing an urban grocery store eliminates a valuable economic asset that is not likely to return. With socio-economic pressure on grocers to leave, and few benefits for returning, grocery stores are precious to urban areas and should be protected. In Durham, NC, the Durham Town Council recently decided to widen Alston Ave in order to alleviate traffic in the area. The construction will result in the destruction of Los Primos, the primary grocery store in the area.11 This situation, which will leave many already struggling families without adequate food op11
tions, is one example of food insecurity impacted by construction and reflects the need for future protection of this area’s food supply. The Durham city commissioner must consider including a food security provision in future impact studies for construction and development projects. Considerations of food security would fit well into previously established environmental impact studies. Data on food security should be gathered annually and included in models developed for transportation assessment. Analysis The urgency of diminishing food security in the country has led to several initiatives seeking to increase access to food through various outlets such as community gardens, farmers’ markets, and nutrition programs in schools. However, most US government programs addressing the needs of households with low food security focus on the ability to pay for groceries rather than how to access healthy food. No policies currently exist in the south that protects the food security of a community from construction threats. The current state of food security in Durham should be determined using guidelines outlined by the USDA Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit.2 Many of the aspects of this assessment, such as transportation patterns and community demographics, are readily available to the county commissioner. Other aspects, such as collection of community surveys, require minimal time and training from a small number of individuals. Generally speaking, when construction causes the elimination of a food supply in an area, food security risk should be measured with and without the presence of the provider using the guidelines set out by the USDA. The impact on food security in Durham must be weighed against the improvements in traffic congestion of the proposed construction. Including a food security assessment in a proposed construction impact study will require both time and money. Individuals must be hired to assess the food security in an area as outlined by the USDA assessment. This potential challenge should be remedied with funding from the local government institution involved in approving construction projects. Raising awareness of the importance of food security is an essential tool to encourage funding. In addition to health and cognitive benefits, food security can also stimulate the economy within a community through improved work potential in adults, fewer thefts, and a decrease in overall health care costs.
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. 2008. “Food Security in the United States.” United States Department of Agriculture. http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity. 2. Cohen, Barbara. 2002. “Community Food Security Assessment toolkit.” Economic Research Service. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/efan02013/efan02013.pdf. 3. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. 2009 “USDA Food Plans: The Cost of Food.” http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodPlansCostofFood.htm. 4. Food Research and Action Center. 2008. “Hunger in the U.S.” http://www.frac.org/ html/hunger_in_the_us/hunger_index.html>. 5. Adams, E. J., L. Grummer-Strawn, and G. Chavez. 2003. Food Insecurity is Associated with Increased Risk of Obesity in California Women. Journal of Nutrition 133: 1070-1074. 6. Tamler, J. 1982. Diet and Coronary Heart Disease. Biometrics 38: 95-114. 7. Seligman, H. K., A.B. Bindman, A. B, E. Vittinghoff, A.M. Kanaya, and M.B. Kushel. 2007. Food Insecurity is Associated with Diabetes Mellitus: Reuslts from the National Health Examination and Nutrition Examination Survey. Journal of General Internal Medicine 22: 1018-1023. 8. National Food Service Management Institute. 2001. “Nutrition and Cognitive Development.” University of Mississippi. http://www.nfsmi.org/documentlibraryfiles/ PDF/20080612091850.pdf. 9. Gesch, C. B., S.M. Hammond, S.E. Hampson, A. Eves, and M.J. Crowder. 2002. Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behavior of young adult prisoners. The British Journal of Psychiatry 181: 2228. 10. Pothukuchi, K. 2005. Attracting Supermarkets to Inner-City Neighborhoods: Economic Development Outside the Box. Economic Development Quarterly 19: 232. 11. Gager, Paul et al. 2008. A Comprehensive Analysis of Potential Threats to Food Security Using Durham as a Heuristic. Chapel Hill: Ramses Consulting.
Funding Richland Co. Buses
Ryan Shelton-Benson University of South Carolina
The Richland County Council should place a referendum on the November 2, 2010 general election ballot to increase the county sales tax by 0.25% in order to permanently fund the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority’s bus system. Key Points • The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (CMRTA) public bus system is committed to providing safe, dependable and accessible public transit in Columbia, S.C., and surrounding areas. • The CMRTA only has temporary funding through the year 2010. • In November 2004, residents of the nearby city of Charleston, S.C., voted for a sales tax increase after the Charleston Area Regional Transit Authority’s service was cut by 75%. • Up to 85% of the CMRTA system could be shut down if permanent funding is not established. • The CMRTA operates on an annual budget of $11 million. • Public transportation benefits the community by reducing traffic congestion, facilitating economic development, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lessening dependence on oil. Background South Carolina Electric & Gas’ parent company SCANA, a public utility, provided bus service to the midlands of South Carolina under an 85 year-old court order as part of their license agreement to operate in the Midlands. In 2002, the City of Columbia agreed to relieve SCANA of its obligation for a financial package valued at $71 million over 30 years. The package included a $15 million payment to the city and a subsidy of $2.47 million per year for seven years, expiring in 2009.1 The City of Columbia has not developed permanent funding for the CMRTA since. In August 2008, the CMRTA faced the possibility of ceasing service after Richland County Council did not renew an unpopular vehicle registration tax that charged $16 for private cars and $24 for commercial vehicles. This tax was used to fund the CMRTA. Not renewing the vehicle registration tax led to a substantial decrease in CMRTA service. In February 2009 Richland County Council voted to temporarily fund the CM15
RTA through 2010 by reinstating a vehicle registration tax. This will fund the CMRTA through 2010 but will not provide funding afterward.2 Analysis In 2005 Richland County projected that a one percent increase in the county sales tax would generate $62 million a year in revenue.3 Raising the sales tax .25% could provide $15 million per year of funding for CMRTA. CMRTA operates on an annual budget of $11 million. Increasing the sales tax could permanently fund the CMRTA.4 The excess funding could then be used to enhance the bus system by adding additional routes and stops and by upgrading equipment. Charleston, S.C., has shown that using sales tax is a viable method for funding a bus system. Voters in Charleston approved a half percent increase in sales tax that should generate $1.3 billion over 25 years. Eighteen percent of roughly $234 million will be used for mass transit.5 One shortfall of using a sales tax system is that income may vary from year to year. Therefore, Richland County would need to set aside a rainy day fund to fill budget gaps when revenue is down. A sales tax is the most equitable way to tax for the bus system. Everyone benefits from mass transit because mass transit eases traffic congestion, improves air quality and reduces energy consumption. According to American Public Transit Association, for every $10 million invested in public transportation, more than $15 million is saved in costs to both highway and public transportation users. Buses emit about 80 percent less carbon monoxide than the cars necessary to transport the same number of people. Public transit reduces auto fuel consumption by 1.5 billion gallons annually.6 The previous vehicle registration tax only taxed people with registered vehicles in Richland County, excluding commuters who live outside but work in the city. A sales tax would generate revenue from these people who frequent the city but do not have cars registered inside Richland County. State Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, believes Columbia cannot expect to continue its record growth without an adequate transit system. “As industries look to move into the area they need their employees to have access,” he said. “You cannot expect business to run that way. Look at the retail sector and their ability to get customers to the store. You’re not only losing employees.”
Next Steps The referendum could be voted on in the November 2, 2010 General Election. If approved, the tax could begin collection on January 2, 2011. The cost of placing this referendum on the ballot and collecting the tax would be minimal. Businesses within the county are already required to collect sales tax, and the proposal would only change the percentage collected. However, voters may oppose an increase in the county sales tax. For example, voters in Charleston opposed such an increase when it was initially proposed. Fortunately, an increase in the sales tax to fund the bus system has a strong ally in popular five-term Columbia Mayor Bob Coble. Having an influential proponent would likely build support for the referendum. Works Cited
1. Ward, Eric. “Comparing Bus Deals: Columbia v. Charleston” Free Times. 27 Aug. 2008. Free-times.com 2 Mar. 2009 <http://www.free-times.com/index. php?cat=121304064644348&z_Issue_ID=11012708083079347&ShowArchiveArticle_ID =11012708083953609&Year=2008>. Ward, Eric. “Bus-Funding Plan Heading for Approval” Free Times. 11 Feb. 2009. Free-times.com 2 Mar. 2009 < http://www.free-times.com/index.php?cat=199291206 4017974&ShowArticle_ID=11011102093769899>. “Local Sales Tax option” Richland County, South Carolina. Richlandonline.com 2 Mar. 2009 <http://www.richlandonline.com/Information/Forms/LocalOption.asp> “Lack of Leadership Brings Bus System” CMRTA 20 June 2006. GoCMRTA.com 2 Mar. 2009 <http://www.gocmrta.com/content/pdf/6.20.06_Lack_%of_%20leadership.pdf> Knich, Diane. “Funds Cut For CARTA, TriCounty” The Post and Courier 18 Feb. 2009. Charleston.net 2 Mar. 2009 <http://www.charleston.net/news/2009/feb/18/ funds_cut_carta_tricounty72072/>. Weyrich, Paul. “How Transit Benefits People who Do Not Ride” American Public Transportation Association Oct 2003 APTA.com 2 Mar. 2009 <http://www.apta. com/research/info/online/how_transit_benefits.cfm#tac
2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Subsidizing Alternative Biofuel
Peter Schaeffing University of South Carolina
Subsidizing the cultivation of jatropha in areas of the rural American South suffering from depleted soil will stimulate local economies and encourage a viable alternative energy source. Key Points • Jatropha curcas, a weed native to Central America, produces oil in its fruit that has been successfully used in the production of biodiesel. • Much of the American South has poor soil due to previous use of the land. Jatropha can grow in nearly any soil in warm climates. • Jatropha is completely inedible, meaning it avoids the “food or fuel” controversy. • Many rural Southerners would require temporary subsidies in order to start farming jatropha. Background In 2003, the most recent year for which the United States Department of Agriculture has statistics, the rural poverty rate in the South was 17.7%, the highest rate of any region in the country and nearly 5% higher than the urban poverty rate in the south.1 That figure is 3.5% higher than the nation’s rural poverty rate. The same study shows that the South has the highest concentration of counties with persistent poverty (defined as more than 20% of the population in poverty since 1970). The vast majority of these counties denoted as having persistent poverty are non-metropolitan. One contributor to the South’s rural poverty is soil exhaustion. Due to past agricultural practices, particularly the overplanting of crops such as cotton and tobacco as well as the use of harmful fertilizers, large sections of the South’s farmland are not suitable for traditional crops.2 Jatropha has been cultivated with tremendous results in soil that is otherwise not arable. Its only inhibitor to growth is cold climates, which makes much of the South, particularly Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida an ideal location for it.3 Additionally, the weed’s fruit has already been used in the production of biodiesel, as several airlines have run successful test flights using jatropha jet fuel.4 Thanks to these favorable results, Goldman Sachs has called it “one of the best candidates for future biodiesel production.”5 These positive indicators make jatropha an excellent alternative energy source in which the United States should invest.
The proposed subsidy for farmers wishing to cultivate jatropha would be variable and would depend on the cost and the financial situation of the farmer. Priority funding would be given to applicants living in counties marked with persistent poverty and whose average income is less than 200% of the poverty line, and who own at least 20 acres of farmable land. After these applicants receive funding, the remaining allotment would go to applicants meeting the above requirements in other counties, and then to any applicant with at least 20 acres of farmable land until the funding allotment is exhausted. This would ensure that low-income farmers can take advantage of this program and that only those with adequate acreage receive funding. Subsidies would be available on a decreasing scale for ten years, at which point the operation will either be profitable or will fail. Analysis This policy has historical precedent in public subsidies to farmers. These subsidies amounted to $13.4 billion in 20066 and could easily be extended to farmers cultivating jatropha. Furthermore, the federal government has subsidized the production and development of alternative energy sources since 1980.7 The substantial cost that this policy would incur could be paid by reducing subsidies to other farmers, as they disproportionately and unfairly benefit corporate farming operations. A portion of the subsidies given to other alternative energy producers could be diverted to cover the costs as well. Moreover, decreased reliance on foreign oil and increased incomes in rural communities in the South would positively impact the economy and counterbalance costs. A possible barrier to this policy is the potential difficulty in processing and distributing biodiesel made from an unconventional source. However, each state in the South already contains at least two biodiesel production facilities8 and three biodiesel distributors.9 Any modifications necessary to these facilities to prepare them to process jatropha could be paid for through the subsidy program or by the facility itself if it is economically viable option. Initial costs to this program would not be a major concern because of its great profit potential, as biodiesel contains more than three times the amount of energy that it takes to produce.10 Investing in biodiesel production from jatropha in the South could increase incomes and land values in poor rural communities.
United States Department of Agriculture. “Rural Income, Poverty, and Welfare: Rural Poverty.” 10 November 2004. <http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/incomepovertywelfare/RuralPoverty/> 2. Byres, Terence J. “Book Reviews.” Journal of Agrarian Change. Vol. 5, Issue 2. P281297. April 2005. 3. National Biodiesel Board. “Feedstock Fact Sheet.” 12 June 2009. <http://www.biodiesel.org/resources/ sustainability/pdfs/feedstockfactsheet.pdf> 4. Padgett, Tim. “The Next Big Biofuel?” Time. Feb. 9 2009. Vol. 173, No. 5. 5. Barta, Patrick. “Jatropha Plant Gains Steam in Global Race for Biofuels.” Wall Street Journal. 31 August 2007. 6. “In Recession, Modest Help for Most Americans, But Big Bucks for Big Farms.” Environmental Working Group. 14 April 2008. < http://farm.ewg.org/farm/newsrelease. php> 7. “Article 29: The Alternative Fuel Production Credit.” Energy Information Agency. 10 December 2000. < http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy/box_txt.html> 8. “Biodiesel Production.” U.S. Department of Energy. 10 July 2009. <http://www.afdc. energy.gov/afdc/fuels /biodiesel_production.html> 9. “Buying Biodiesel.” National Biodiesel Board. 12 July 2009. <http://www.biodiesel. org/buyingbiodiesel/ distributors/biomaps/biomaps.shtm#> 10. “Biodiesel Benefits.” U.S. Department of Energy. 10 July 2009 <http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/biodiesel _benefits.html>
Health IT for Southern CHCs
Jeremy Ford University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Increased financial support for electronic medical records (EMRs) would improve healthcare outcomes of the uninsured in southern community health centers (CHCs). Key Points • Electronic medical records in CHCs have the potential to mitigate health disparities for rural uninsured patients.1 • Southern state legislatures must increase their financial support of EMRs in rural CHCs to supplement recent federal legislation.2 • Legislation on both the state and federal level must do more to encourage the adoption of proven EMR systems. Background Community health centers serve as a medical safety net for low-income and uninsured populations.3 People who earn moderate incomes are increasingly likely to be uninsured.4 Therefore, with the persisting economic crisis, it is more likely that people of middle-class backgrounds will also find themselves in the CHC system as the number of uninsured will continue to increase. This presents problems for the already underfunded CHCs of southern states. For example, there are 26 federally funded CHCs in Boston but only 28 CHCs in the entire state of North Carolina.5,6 Due to the lower population density, people often from rural areas are often required to travel long distances, creating major accessibility issues.7 Given the growing number of uninsured individuals and the problems faced by southern clinics, CHCs must be as efficient as possible. In ambulatory care, an accepted method for improving efficiency and health outcomes is the utilization of electronic medical records. The potential benefits include reduced operational costs, improved preventive care, and fewer adverse drug events.8 However, the capital costs of EMRs for cash-strapped CHCs are prohibitive.9 Federal and state governments should therefore provide support for CHCs to implement effective EMR systems to offset the problems these clinics face in rural settings. Analysis According to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund, Florida was the only southern state that identified EMRs as a significant issue.10 However, there has been
legislative activity regarding EMRs throughout the south. Support has typically been in the form of tax credits for clinics that have already implemented EMR systems. Unfortunately this is not helpful to CHCs, which usually do not have the financial resources to implement EMRs. Therefore, they are unable to receive a tax credit post investment. Some states have stressed standardization and interoperability, an essential element of a usable EMR system, but only the Florida legislature has directly addressed low-income patients by funding EMR development for Medicaid providers.11 On the federal level, the first major success in EMR legislation was an attachment on President Obama’s economic recovery package – $19 billion for assistance in implementing EMRs in doctor’s offices. This bill included $40,000 in incentives for physicians who use EMRs, the creation of grant programs, and resources to promote interoperability.12 This multi-faceted approach to support EMR policies is a step in the right direction. However, future policy regarding EMRs must be informed by proven EMR systems that have worked for both patients and practitioners. This will allow federal legislation to optimize the effect of its incentives by allocating more funds for clinics that have or will adopt a proven model of EMR utilization. Given technology’s ability to offset the inefficiencies faced by rural CHCs, southern state legislatures should supplement federal support with grants directed toward rural EMR development. EMR systems throughout the rural south would improve clinic efficiency and health outcomes. Works Cited
1. 2. 3. Fiscella, K and Geiger, HJ (2006) Health Information Technology and Quality Improvement for Community Health Centers. Health Affairs 25:405-412. http://waysandmeans.house.gov/media/pdf/110/sbill.pdf National Association of Community Health Centers, “The Safety Net on the Edge,” August 2005, http://www.nachc.org/research/Files/SNreport2005.pdf; and J. Taylor, “The Fundamentals of Community Health Centers,” NHPF Background Paper, 31 August 2004, http://www.gwumc.edu/sphhs/healthpolicy/ggprogram/BP_CHC_0831-04.pdf Tanne, JH (2006) Number of Uninsured US Citizens Grows. BMJ 332:1047. Community Health Centers in North Carolina. The North Carolina Community Health Center Association. http://www.ncchca.org/page.aspx?id=177278 Community Health Centers by Boston Neighborhood. Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. http://www.massleague.org/HealthCenters-ByBostonNeighborhood.htm Thomas, AA (2005) Access to Transportation and Health Care Utilization in a Rural Region. Journal of Rural Health 21:31-38. Hillestad, R, et al. (2005) Can Electronic Medical Records Transform Health Care? Potential Health Benefits, Savings, and Costs. Health Affairs 24:1103-1117. Shields, AE, et al. (2007) Adoption of HIT in Community Health Centers: A National
4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Survey. Health Affairs 26:1374-1383. 10. V. K. Smith, K. Gifford, S. Kramer, et al. (2008) State E-Health Activities in 2007: Findings From a State Survey, The Commonwealth Fund. 11. National Conference of State Legislators (2007) 2007 State Legislation on Electronic Health Records and Personal Health Records. http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/forum/07EHRChart.htm 12. http://waysandmeans.house.gov/media/pdf/110/sbill.pdf
LEED Certification in Schools
Michael Levy and Tyler O’Connor Emory University
Employ LEED Certification standards for construction of new school buildings in the Dekalb County School District to save money on long-run energy and utility costs while improving the learning environment for students. Key Facts • The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification is a building standard developed by the United States Green Building Council, judging the energy efficiency of new buildings.1 • A typical LEED certified school saves an average of $100,000 per year in reduced operational costs due to energy efficiency.2 • Study of Chicago and DC area schools found documented increase of 3-4 points on standardized test scores with environmentally sustainable facilities.3 • Dekalb County Schools can partake in this sustainability venture and improve the student health while simultaneously reducing the longterm utility costs of all their facilities. Background Current building codes in Dekalb County, Georgia focus on limiting short-term construction costs but neglect the significantly higher long-term operational costs resulting from inefficient energy consumption. To encourage the construction of both sustainable and economical buildings, the U.S. Green Building Council established the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification, which provides guidelines for the construction of all new buildings.4 LEED Certification decreases costs by employing environmental standards that recognize and eliminate energy inefficiencies.5 Although several public schools in Georgia (as well as buildings at Emory University in Atlanta) have been built to meet LEED requirements, the recently finished Arabia Mountain High School is the first LEED Certified public school in the Dekalb County School District.6 The chief architect of Arabia Mountain, Sean Hamlin, expects significant savings resulting from less energy use.7 Although LEED schools initially cost marginally more than non-LEED schools, the decreased operational costs associated with sustainable schools make them a less expensive long-term investment.8 In addition to the economic benefits, sustainable public schools have seen educational and health benefits relative to their traditionally constructed peers.9 Because of the benefits associated with LEED Certified public
schools, many public officials around the country have joined efforts to promote sustainability initiatives in the nations’ public school systems.10 Analysis The primary challenge confronting the sustainable schools movement is the notion that buildings designed to environmental standards incur severe construction cost premiums. However, improvements in technology have reduced the average premium on LEED certified schools to only $3 per square foot, or about 1.7% of project costs.11 This initial cost premium is defrayed by reduced life-cycle costs as well as economies of scale when environmental standards are widely adopted, enabling the bulk purchase of LEED compatible construction materials.12 The average LEED Certified school saves an average of $100,000 per year in reduced operational costs due to decreased energy and water consumption.13 The benefits of LEED Certification are already being seen in Dekalb County, where Arabia Mountain High School, the first LEED certified school built in the school district, is expected to see a 25% savings on energy costs. The school also finished six months ahead of schedule and resulted in a minimal cost premium relative to other non-LEED projects.14 Similarly, the state of Ohio has calculated savings of $1.4 billion over the next 40 years due to implementation of environmental standards in public schools.15 Constructing LEED Certified schools also results in healthier, better-educated students. Because of poor air quality and ventilation, traditionally constructed public schools buildings can have harmful effects on students.16 LEED Certification provides standards for air quality and ventilation and has been shown to reduce student absenteeism and increase productivity.17 Green schools have also achieved a documented 12% decrease in teacher sick days, benefiting students and operational bottom lines alike.18 Another study of Chicago and Washington, D.C. area schools found that better school facilities can add three to four percentage points to a school’s standardized test scores, even when controlling for demographic factors.19 Recently, bipartisan groups of United States Mayors and Congressman have joined in the effort to provide our youth healthy and sustainable public schools.20,21 With President Obama’s Stimulus Package allocating over $200 million to Georgia for state and local weatherization and energy efficiency efforts, now is the time for Dekalb County to take responsibility and implement LEED standards in all new public schools.22 Works Cited
1. 2. “What LEED Is.” Intro- What LEED Is. 2008. United States Green Building Council. 19 July 2009 <http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=1988>. Burnham, Michael. “‘Green Schools’ Caucus Sprouts on Capitol Hill.” U.S. Green
3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.
.Building Council. 17 November 2007. http://www.buildgreenschools.org/news/ news_story_1.html Schneider, Mark. “Public School Facilities and Teaching: Washington, DC and Chicago,” November 2002. “What LEED Is.” Intro- What LEED Is. 2008. United States Green Building Council. 19 July 2009 <http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=1988>. “What LEED Measures.” Intro- What LEED Measures. 2008. U.S. Green Building Council. 19 July 2009 <http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=1989>. Katz, Gregory. “Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits.” October 2006. A Capital E Report. 20 March 2009. http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile. aspx?DocumentID=2908 Hamlin/Perkins and Will Architects, Sean. “Interview with Sean Hamlin.” Telephone interview. 25 Feb. 2009. “Green Schools 101.” Build Green Schools. 2009. U.S. Green Building Council. 20 Mar. 2009 <http://www.buildgreenschools.org/gs101/save.html>. Katz, Gregory. “Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits.” October 2006. A Capital E Report. 20 March 2009. http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile. aspx?DocumentID=2908 Burnham, Michael. “‘Green Schools’ Caucus Sprouts on Capitol Hill.” U.S. Green .Building Council. 17 November 2007. Katz, Gregory. “Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits.” October 2006. A Capital E Report. 20 March 2009. http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile. aspx?DocumentID=2908 Hamlin/Perkins and Will Architects, Sean. “Interview with Sean Hamlin.” Telephone interview. 25 Feb. 2009 Burnham, Michael. “‘Green Schools’ Caucus Sprouts on Capitol Hill.” U.S. Green .Building Council. 17 November 2007. Hamlin/Perkins and Will Architects, Sean. “Interview with Sean Hamlin.” Telephone interview. 25 Feb. 2009 King, Ledyard. “Cost, Concerns Push Schools to Use Eco-friendly Elements.” USA Today [Mclean, Virginia] 30 July 2008: . Hamlin/Perkins and Will Architects, Sean. “Interview with Sean Hamlin.” Telephone interview. 25 Feb. 2009 Katz, Gregory. “Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits.” October 2006. A Capital E Report. 20 March 2009. http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile. aspx?DocumentID=2908 Ibid. Schneider, Mark. “Public School Facilities and Teaching: Washington, DC and Chicago,” November 2002. “Mayors’ Alliance for Green Schools Announced.” U.S. Green Builiding Council. 16, October 2008. http://www.usgbc.org/News/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?ID=3855. 21 March 2009. “Green Schools Caucus: Making the Case on Capitol Hill.” U.S. Green Building Council. http://www.buildgreenschools.org/action/green_schools_caucus.html 21, March 2009. Newkirk, Margaret. “Stimulus Sparks Surge in Energy Conservation Industry.” Atlanta Journal Constitution. Atlanta,, Georgia. 29, March 2009. http://www.ajc.com/ business/content/business/stories/2009/03/29/georgia_energy_stimulus.html 29
Inclusionary Zoning in Athens, GA
Ellyn Echols University of Georgia
Athens-Clarke County, Georgia is facing a housing crisis not uncommon in the South. Past zoning ordinances have served to segregate suburban neighborhoods and leave low to median-income earners without access to affordable homes. By adopting inclusionary zoning (IZ) in Athens-Clarke County (ACC), the local government can not only promote the availability of housing for lower-income residents, but also integrate a socio-economically stratified community. Key Points • As new or renovated housing caters to students in ACC, some rent and homeownership costs rise in the area and many residents can no longer afford housing. • ACC has identified a specific population that can no longer afford housing and defines this low-income group as families earning 30 percent or less of the median income of the area. • Inclusionary zoning not only costs little to the local government in administrative costs, but can also produce mixed-income neighborhoods and provides high quality, affordable homes. Background Historically, the federal government has been the foremost enactor of policy for affordable housing across the country. Currently, however, local governments are taking a much more active role in constructing policies that directly impact the availability of quality, affordable units in the community. In 2002, the Department of Human and Economic Development (HED) in ACC released a comprehensive study on housing concluding that, while Athens has sufficient housing in terms of true numbers of available units, most of these units were inaccessible for those earning less than 30 percent of the median income for this area.1 Furthermore, not unlike other communities in the South, ACC faces the problem of supplying quality, affordable units for homeownership to individuals who lie between low-income and upper middle class populations. These people are sometimes known as the public service demographic, as a significant percentage of them are employed as teachers, policemen, and firemen. This group presents a need for high quality, affordable housing in a location near bus lines or conducive to a short commute. In order to promote this kind of development, the local government could adopt a policy of inclusionary zoning, requiring developers to include a certain percentage of affordable housing in new developments. This policy approach costs little to the local government in administra-
tive costs while potentially providing mixed income neighborhoods and good quality, affordable houses and townhouses in new developments. ACC should adopt this approach to promote affordable housing for the community and to provide sustainable housing for future generations. Analysis In recent years, inclusionary zoning (IZ) has been used to promote integration of affordable housing units in residential development in cities like Boston, Washington, DC and San Francisco. IZ ordinances either permit or require builders of new developments to devote a percentage of their projects to affordable housing in exchange for some non-monetary incentives. These ordinances are flexible and thus adaptable to different communities’ housing trends. Furthermore, IZ allows new, full price development to continue while simultaneously producing quality, affordable units for medium to low-income populations. For Athens specifically, inclusionary zoning offers the chance for increasingly scarce land to be used in a way that is beneficial to all members of the community. Since research shows that mandatory programs are far more effective at producing affordable units, the governing body should adopt a policy of mandatory inclusionary zoning. This policy would be administered by the planning department, which can then specify terms for builder compensation (unless already designated in the governing ordinance.) The larger benefits of inclusionary zoning are two-fold. First, inclusionary zoning relies less on monetary support from the public than other tactics to promote affordable housing and is seen as more fiscally sustainable for a community. Although developers may realize less profit or even lose money on affordable units, incentives, such as density bonuses, help avoid negative financial impact. Second, IZ promotes socio-economic and racial integration within new developments, as well as the school systems that serve these areas.2 Critics argue that with mandatory IZ ordinances, developers will simply build elsewhere. However, making the program mandatory levels the playing field for all developers within the community, allowing the land and housing market to adjust for this element. There is little research to date about how IZ ordinances affect housing markets of communities that employ them in the long term. The research that is available indicates that these programs must be tailored city by city to be effective. The ability for customization is a unique and positive quality of adopting IZ ordinances in Athens-Clarke County and across the South.
1. 2. W. Keith McNeely, “Affordable Housing Survey, 25 September 2002,” Human Economic Development Department, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. Shuetz, Jenny et al. “The Effects of Inclusionary Zoning on Local Housing Markets: Lessons from the San Francisco, Washington DC and Suburban Boston areas.” Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University. 19 November 2007.
Raising Taxes on GA Cigarettes
Lucas Puente University of Georgia
The Georgia General Assembly should adopt legislation to raise the excise tax on cigarettes from $0.37 to $1.21, thereby providing the state with much-needed funds while gradually encouraging decreased cigarette consumption. Key Points • The State of Georgia faces a budget deficit of $2.2 billion for FY 2010. • 20 percent of Georgians smoke cigarettes, costing the state $1.8 billion annually in medical costs and $3.3 billion in lost productivity from morbidity and mortality. • The current average for state cigarette excise tax rates is $1.21 per pack, while Georgia’s excise tax on cigarettes of $0.37 is the 43rd lowest rate in the country. • Raising the Georgia excise tax on cigarettes would yield hundreds of millions of dollar in revenue, erode detrimental cigarette consumption among Georgians, and reflect the will of Georgians according to public opinion surveys. Background The State of Georgia currently faces an unprecedented budget shortfall of $2.2 billion for FY 2010.1 Although the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has partially helped address Georgia’s budgetary challenges, state legislators must take additional measures to ensure a properly funded government. Moreover, twenty percent of adults and high school students in Georgia smoke cigarettes, a trend estimated to lead to lethal cases of lung cancer for 180,000 current middle school students in Georgia.2 Unfortunately, budgetary shortfalls and public health concerns attributed to smoking are not unique to Georgia; throughout the South, states are struggling to balance their books and reduce health expenditures directly related to smoking. State policy makers must address these challenges. Raising the state excise tax on cigarettes is one of the most effective tools in combating the public health concerns of cigarette consumption and raising revenue for state governments. Although Georgia was the second state to originally adopt this fiscal instrument, its current cigarette excise tax is the forty-third lowest in the nation at $0.37 per pack, well below the national average of $1.21.3 This trend is common across the South, with an average excise tax of merely $0.38.5 in Kentucky, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.4 Thus, Georgia, like all southern states, should
raise its excise tax on cigarettes to $1.21, thus placing it on par with the national average. Analysis The benefits of implementing this policy are remarkably positive as a rise in cigarette excise taxes nearly always results in increased fiscal revenues and diminished consumption.5 To quantify the former, a $1 excise tax increase would provide the state of Georgia with an estimated $450 million annually.1 For the latter, the benefits are even more unambiguously positive; for every 10 percent increase in price, overall cigarette consumption will fall 3-5 percent and smoking among children will drop 6-7 percent.6 This reduction in consumption would substantially alleviate the $1.8 billion annually that the state directly bears in cigarette-related health costs, as well as the $3.3 billion in lost productivity due to morbidity and mortality.1 Politically, this initiative is viable, as 79 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans in Georgia supporting an excise tax increase of $1.00.7 Furthermore, if Georgia were to adopt this policy recommendation, it would be following the path of its regional peers. North Carolina is considering passing a $0.50 excise tax increase, while Arkansas and Kentucky recently doubled their tax and Florida raised its tax by $1.00.8 Changes have also occurred in Washington, where legislation passed in February raised the federal cigarette tax to $1.01 from $0.39. Despite the obvious benefits, a few predictable skeptics remain, notably the National Association of Tobacco Outlets. The organization argues that this tax increase will lead to approximately 117,000 job losses in the tobacco industry as consumption drops and profit margins shrink.9 However, several sources of academic literature attest that any decrease in tobacco industry employment could easily be offset by a labor-market expansion in other consumable goods industries that would be catalyzed by a more efficient allocation of resources.10 Overall, Georgia would be wise to raise its excise tax on cigarettes to $1.21. Although legislation advocating a $1.00 increase failed to pass through the state House earlier this year, many state policy makers remain committed to enacting this meritorious legislation.12 Such a move would simultaneously address state budgetary and public health concerns, place Georgia on par with its peers, and more accurately reflect public sentiment in the state.
1. “Tax Reform: A Reality Check.” Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. 20 Jan. 2009. <http://www.gbpi.org/documents/20090120.pdf>. 2. Jones, Walter C. “Doctors Seek Higher Tax on Cigarettes.” Augusta Chronicle. 6 Feb. 2009. <http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2009/02/06/met_510430.shtml>. 3. “Reducing Tobacco Use: 4. Lindlom, Eric. “State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates and Rankings.” Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. 15 Oct. 2008. <http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0097.pdf>. 5. McKay, Betsy. “Cigarette Tax Clouds Boosts Among States.” Wall Street Journal. 8 Feb. 2009 <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123414187016161821.html>. 6. Lindlom, Eric and Boonn, Ann. “Raising Cigarette Taxes Reduces Smoking, Especially Among Kids.” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 9 Jan. 2009. <http://tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0146.pdf>. 7. “Voters in All States Support Significant Increases in State Cigarette Taxes.” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. July 2008. <http://tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0309.pdf>. 8. Baxter, Tom. “New Tobacco Tests Meaning of ‘Inelastic Demand.’” Southern Political Report. 1 April 2009. < http://www.southernpoliticalreport.com/storylink_41_823. aspx>. 9. Briant, Thomas. “Massive Tobacco Tax Increase by Congress Spells Even More Economic Disaster for Jobs.” National Association of Tobacco Outlets. 12 Jan. 2009. <http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS197335+12-Jan2009+PRN20090112>. 10. Chaloupka, Frank J et. al. “The Economics of Tobacco Control.” Briefing Notes in Economics. Dec. 2004. < http://www.richmond.ac.uk/bne/63_Frank_Chaloupka. pdf>. 11. Stephens, Ron, et. al. House Bill 39. H.B. 39. 2009. <http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/search/hb39.htm>.
Curbing Dropouts with P.A.R.K.
Katherine Bogle, Andrew Burnett, Karie Cross, Neely Hewes, Kathleen Larkin, Amy Littleton, Tiffany Parrish, and Bobby Wilkinson Harding University
Executive Summary • Positive role models, supplemental academic assistance, and healthy recreational activities are not often available to at-risk youth in Southern urban areas, leading to alarmingly high drop-out rates from high school. • Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids, or P.A.R.K., serves as a supplemental education and character development program for high school students deemed at-risk due to having GPAs below 2.5. • P.A.R.K. provides a safe environment for students to gain scholastic assistance and engage in positive activities while attaining key life skills such as practices for a healthy lifestyle and appropriate social interaction. In 2009, the program’s tenth graduating class included twenty-five graduates who had formerly been at-risk. • Programs similar to P.A.R.K. should be developed in other Southern cities to help address education problems and high drop-out rates. Funding could be provided by local businesses and universities or celebrities and sports figures native to the area. • In order to be successfuln other urban areas in the South, the P.A.R.K. model must be tailored to the specific needs of each community. To illustrate the P.A.R.K. model’s ability to adapt to specific needs in various urban communities, we analyze the educational needs in Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia. • The PARK model can address region specific issues such as inadequate academics, language and cultural diversity, and nutritional and health concerns. P.A.R.K.’s method of helping young people in every aspect of their lives allows it to address each of these specific issues. Introduction Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia make up ten of the eighteen states whose public high school graduation rates fell below the 2006 national average of 68.6 percent.1 The disproportionate number of Southern states that fall into this category raises a red flag for policy makers across the region. Failure to address the socioeconomic disparities in the South has led to the loss of potential intellectual capital. Due to the lack of mental stimulation and a community environment conducive to education, at-risk Southern youth often fail to realize
their full potential. The organization Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids, or P.A.R.K., serves the Little Rock, Arkansas, area by providing various programs to address the issues facing such students. The implementation of programs like P.A.R.K. will not only reduce drop out rates, but also lower crime rates and create a better-educated workforce. This will in turn raise the income of those participating, as well as benefit each state by those individuals paying higher income taxes. In order to make educational disparities a part of Southern history, community initiatives such as P.A.R.K. must be implemented in urban areas throughout the South to lay the foundation for a more promising future. Background The Associated Press released an article on April 1, 2008, describing the disturbing circumstances of the education system in the United States. In the article, former secretary of state Colin Powell, states, “When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it’s more than a problem, it’s a catastrophe.”2 Further, a disproportionately high amount of low-income students drop out of school, and the South contains nearly half, 41 percent or 10.5 million children, of the United State’s low-income families.3 Schools in the South have standardized test scores, particularly on the ACT and SAT, which fall below the national average.4 In addition to disadvantages stemming from regional and historical education problems, Southern schools also suffer from racial gaps in achievement. African-American and Hispanic students consistently score lower than white students on standardized tests, a factor which contributes to the educational plight in the South.5 Southern students, and especially southern minority students, need outside assistance to help them bridge the gap between their level of achievement and that of the rest of the United States. A startlingly large number of students in the South fail to emerge from the formative high school years with the knowledge and skills necessary to equip themselves to be productive citizens, many of whom do not even receive a high school diploma. Programs must be developed to target those students who are in danger of failing to graduate. One such initiative is P.A.R.K., an after-school and summer program targeting at-risk students. According to the P.A.R.K. program, almost a third of all public high school students do not graduate.6 The graduation rates of ten Southern states fall even lower than the 2006 national average of 68.6.7 A central tenet to the PARK program is that problems within school systems, homes, and communities contribute to a lack of support for struggling students.
The P.A.R.K. program reports that students from historically disadvantaged minority groups, including American Indians, Hispanics, and African Americans, have barely a 50 percent chance of graduating with a high school diploma. Students who attend schools in areas characterized by high poverty rates and racial segregation are 15 percent to 18 percent less likely to graduate than students attending schools that are relatively free from those problems.8 Hispanic youth are more at risk than other students, comprising 41 percent of high school dropouts in 2005 even though they accounted for only 17 percent of the population.9 This lack of education creates a cycle of poverty as educational attainment is highly correlated with future income. According to the Child Trends Data Bank, high school dropouts earn an average of $9,245 less per year than students who earn a diploma.10 A potential source for these disturbing statistics is the lack of community and home support received by such students. Oftentimes in poverty stricken homes, parents are working in the afternoons and summers, and students do not obtain the homework help, encouragement, and access to recreational activities that successful youths receive. P.A.R.K. has found a way to bridge the educational gap that is created by economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, as well as a plethora of other factors. The program targets all students with a GPA of 2.5 or less, largely due to the fact that these students are ineligible for after-school sports and clubs. P.A.R.K. is a non-profit organization founded by Keith Jackson, an Arkansas native and former NFL football player. The Little Rock facility has a capacity of 250 students and an annual budget of $1 million with a mission “to provide high-risk students the opportunity to further their education by completing high school so they can attend college.”11 It pursues a three-fold goal: encouraging academic achievement that will open up new opportunities, instilling a concept of intrinsic self worth and spirituality, and teaching discipline of service and helping others. P.A.R.K. believes that students whose minds are fostered in this type of environment will become active, contributing members of society. The strongest, and often toughest critics of P.A.R.K., the students themselves, have indicated that they are very supportive of the program. According to a survey taken of 116 P.A.R.K. participants, 87 percent of students are glad they participated and say that the program has helped them with their study skills. Seventy-five percent of students’ grades improved, and 97 percent of students advocated participation in a program similar to P.A.R.K. to address academic concerns. 91 percent of participants say that their future is brighter because of the program. When asked what they would do in the afternoons after school if they were not at the P.A.R.K. facility, students responded that they would be playing games, hanging out on the streets, and basically doing anything to
amuse themselves besides their homework.12 A current P.A.R.K. participant, Rodrick McCullom, reports that his life has completely changed since he began his five-year commitment to the program. Monique Martin-Palmer, the Education Outreach Coordinator, reports, “Rodrick started the program a shy and quiet kid. He often tried to fade into the background. Over five years, we have seen him blossom here at P.A.R.K. He has improved his grades, stepped into leadership roles and is very active in his community.”13 Rodrick’s transformation is the ideal success story for the P.A.R.K. program. His life’s turn-around illustrates the good that focused attention can do for disadvantaged, at-risk students. Tyler Desbrow represents another success story. His ACT score of 23 is the highest ever achieved by a P.A.R.K. student, and he will attend the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville this fall. Precious Bell, a current participant and senior at Little Rock’s John L. McClellan High School, achieved the highest GPA for a student’s first nine-week period, at a 3.85. Bell is also active in his community, presenting the dangers of tobacco use to local elementary school students and participates in Future Business Leaders of America.14 Another participant, Robert Irby, claims that the program saved him from a dangerous life of gang activity. “It really, truly unraveled me and helped me blossom into the young man I wanted to be. When I was selected [to participate in P.A.R.K.] in the eighth grade, I was in the peak of my gang activity. [P.A.R.K.] gave me a place to go after school to keep me from getting involved on the street.”15 As demonstrated by the above testimonies, P.A.R.K. not only provides a safe place for youth to get academic help, but it also transforms lives. Proposal Societal problems found throughout Southern cities can be combated by policy initiatives to implement P.A.R.K. model programs. These specific and targeted after school programs for at-risk high school students transform young people who exhaust law enforcement and welfare funds into successful, productive citizens. Although cities would be required to invest in the programs initially, they would gain far more in resources long-term funding by creating a bettereducated, engaged community. Due to these tremendous benefits, local governments across the states in the South should pass a resolution, which designates land for the specific use of P.A.R.K. program initiatives. Students who are targeted by this program tend to live in inner cities and poverty-stricken areas that have few safe places to be outside. Recreation facilities and summer programs will motivate students to attend and will provide constructive substitutes to activities such as drug use and gang involvement com-
mon among youth in poverty stricken areas. A program similar to P.A.R.K. will have the ability to fund construction of basketball courts, green spaces, and enclosed areas away from the dangers of traffic, pollution, and other hazardous street conditions. Such open and safe places will enable students to strengthen their bodies as well as their minds. If they have no safe place to be active outdoors, they are far more likely to develop a sedentary lifestyle, leading to future health problems associated with obesity. Ultimately, after-school programs like P.A.R.K. would offer at-risk students a safe alternative to the streets that would develop the entire student—mind, body, and character.
Implementation The key factor to the implementation of these programs would be adaptability. The objective is not transplantation of P.A.R.K. in Little Rock, but adaptation of important ideas that mold to fit the needs of each community. An illustration of this policy can be seen in the urban communities of Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia—three Southern states with unique challenges. These states were specifically chosen based on their economic significance, demographic variation among their respective populations, and their overall need for academically-focused attention to “high-risk youth” in their public high schools. As students of diverse backgrounds immigrate into the United States without English speaking skills, the knowledge they began to develop in their home countries rarely comes to fruition. A study done by the Pew Hispanic Center explains that “only eight percent of the nation’s teens are foreign born, but nearly [one fourth] of teen school dropouts were born outside the United States.” Texas, more so than other Southern states, has a high rate of foreign born or non-native English speaking students. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 31.2% of households in Texas do not speak English in the home. Due to lack of immersion-based English language enrichment in their homes, these students often find themselves at a disadvantage in their school classes. The innate dissatisfaction of students who have a hard time understanding their teachers and peers is strong motivation to consider dropping out of school. However, the PARK model can easily adapt to provide English as a Second Language (ESOL) classes to these students. With the ability to provide ESOL classes and an English-immersion environment outside of the home, P.A.R.K. model programs combat the issues that these Texas students face in completing their education.16 A dishearteningly common problem found among much of Louisiana’s youth, which P.A.R.K. programs can address, is malnutrition. In a study of major urban areas in the state of Louisiana, LSU AgCenter food and nutrition expert Dr. Annrose Guarino states that “more than 40 percent of low-income children live
in homes that do not have access to nutritionally adequate diets.” This correlation between low quality diets and low household incomes adds an intriguing aspect to the docket of possible urban issues that a P.A.R.K. model program can address. The same study states, “Elementary school children from foodinsufficient families were more likely to have repeated a grade in school and have higher rates of tardiness and absences from school, which may affect their overall academic performance.” If elementary-age children begin their academic careers disadvantaged because of poor diets, they are more likely to have a difficult time in upper levels of their education, quite possibly resulting in drop-outs. P.A.R.K. model programs can be tailored to address the nutritional needs of disadvantaged students by providing nutritious snacks and education and incentives for a healthy life-style.17 Additionally, an innovative component of the Arkansas P.A.R.K. program that further addresses the needs of its students is a recent partnership with Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas.18 Students work toward a better quality of life as they compete for prizes in weight loss competitions. Teams vie for points by exercising, eating vegetables, and participating in activities such as Zumba, a fitness program inspired by Latin dance. Similar health and fitness programs could be implemented in all facilities. While some states have very unique and interesting needs that can be addressed, some, like the state of Georgia, simply need a strong, intensified focus on student academics. P.A.R.K. model programs also fulfill this traditional role while adding an essential layer of physical and character development. In English/Language Arts, only 47% of high school student meet or exceed the state of Georgia’s testing requirements annually. Even worse, in the area of Mathematics/Science, only 25% annually meet or exceed the state’s requirements. The holistic approach that P.A.R.K. model programs follow is able to address both the traditional aspect of academic tutoring and the measurable concerns of academic success. By specifically targeting the academic concerns faced by at-risk students, access to upper-level education and better jobs will improve not only the individual student, but also the communities in which they reside. In addition to programs designed to meet the specific needs of each state and community, a typical P.A.R.K. model facility would include a study and tutoring area fully equipped with computers, as well as a library, volunteer tutors, and other resources to help promote academic success. The students would be provided with a cafeteria supplying after school snacks and extensive recreational spaces for them to enjoy after their homework is completed. Recreational options could include multiple basketball courts, a track, a weight room with exercise equipment, a game room with foosball tables and gaming systems, a “girls room” that includes a beauty salon that is kept stocked with hair and nail sup-
plies, and an expansive “backyard” for outdoor activities. Each facility can be tailored to the individuals who are enrolled in the program to fit their specific needs. These programs would not serve students only after school hours; similar to the P.A.R.K. program in Little Rock, facilities and tutors would be available to students, and at sometimes required, during the summer. Due to space limitations, all eligible students are unable to be accepted, therefore, potential students must go through a rigorous selection process in which both students and their families are interviewed. Students new to the program, the most committed and motivated young people, would undergo a period of intensive, remedial educational instruction focusing on core subjects in a summer enrichment program. This helps ensure that students will have as solid an academic base as possible before entering their eighth grade year, a crucial time of learning before high school. It also provides the opportunity to sharpen scholastic skills that have grown dull from a summer’s disuse. Academic achievement would be evaluated every nine weeks, holding students accountable to the program. Those with more than one D or F on their report card would spend more time working on academic skills while at the program facilities.19 Once students enter the 10th grade, P.A.R.K. programs would provide additional college preparatory work. Students will learn standardized test taking methods, be taught how to find scholarships, and take tours of area colleges and universities. A unique aspect of the Little Rock program that could be adapted and individualized elsewhere is the incentive system used to reward hard work. Students earn points for attendance, academic achievement, and good behavior. Points would be used for special activities such as trips to the theater, an amusement park, or sporting event. When students go above and beyond expectations, they would see immediate results. These incentive programs encourage the students to continue working hard, resulting in long-term academic improvements. Students would be tutored in ways that not only improve their grades, but also develop strong personal characters. P.A.R.K. programs would seek to provide an enriching environment that enables students to grow holistically. Integrity would be emphasized in these highly selective programs, because good grades are not the only important component of a resume or a college application. Potential employers of these students need to know that their employees will be honest and diligent, sometimes in spite of their backgrounds.
Funding One of the most crucial obstacles to the implementation of programs modeled after P.A.R.K. is funding. The fact for the matter is that for these programs to get off the ground, funding is going to have to come from a variety of sources. Local communities should be proactive and creative about places from which to raise money. One innovative option would be for the programs to be funded by partnerships with local businesses. These businesses would be motivated to invest because of tax incentives, the potential for the growth and development of a new and loyal workforce, positive press and goodwill in the community, as well as free and positive advertising. Businesses can receive tax deductions based upon the total income of the business. Ten percent of income can be given as contributions to organizations, all of which is tax deductible.20 Students in these programs and other community members will be aware that they are funded by certain businesses, and if representatives from those businesses have a presence in the students’ lives, further fostering the relationships between the program and the businesses. This may well lead to the opportunity for the best students to graduate and go to work at the companies that played such a crucial role in their development and success. This will create long-standing trust and loyalty between employer and employees. In addition, the connection between businesses and after-school programs will provide impoverished and at-risk students with networking opportunities in the business community, which they would otherwise lack access. As the community recognizes the goodwill and altruism of the business, the benefits to the company will only multiply. One example of a successful partnership between the business and educational community is the city of Durham, North Carolina. This city was awarded the 2007 Community Competitiveness Award, which “acknowledges a city whose initiatives have promoted public and private sector cooperation and contributed to education and workforce development.”21 Durham introduced initiatives such as the Superintendent’s Business Advisory Council, Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, and Durham Technical College’s Middle College High School.22 Although the collaboration exemplified in Durham may not be an exact model of the type recommended for other Southern cities, it clearly demonstrates that there is a vested interest for the business community in successful local education. Another funding option is to seek patrons and spokespeople to fund and promote these programs. One reason P.A.R.K. is so successful is the presence of Keith Jackson. The involvement of other sports figures, celebrities, or prominent community members would only enhance the visibility and promote the success of these programs. Potential spokespeople should be eager to be involved because of humanitarian interest, tax incentives, and a positive public image. Tax incentives for individuals are based on the individuals’ income. There are limita-
tions for donations, but ten percent of an individual’s income may be donated and tax deductible.23 Colleges and universities should also have vested interests in funding programs such as P.A.R.K. Marquese McFerguson entered the program with a 1.9 GPA and, on a P.A.R.K.-secured scholarship, eventually earned a degree in graphic design from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. Universities gain hardworking, disadvantaged students when they fund at-risk high school students such as McFerguson. Robert Irby, another college graduate, also secured his university scholarship through P.A.R.K.24 Universities as well as communities have a responsibility to promote education at all ages so they and the state receive the best students possible. Conclusion The Southern region is comprised of states and communities, including the three documented in this paper, with distinct and diverse challenges faced by failing school systems. Implementation of independent and adaptable afterschool and summer programs similar to P.A.R.K. would allow each city or state to address these issues in ways unique to their particular problems. Some might argue that supplemental education programs already exist across the South, and that even in Little Rock where the P.A.R.K program is already in place, it has not single-handedly solved all of the education problems for the community or come even close for that matter. It must be recognized, however, that P.A.R.K type programs are a crucial step in the right direction and make an enormous difference in the lives of each young person that they serve. The P.A.R.K. programs do not expect to solve all of the educational problems in the South, however they are able to promote and improve the lives of at-risk students with whom they come in contact with. The unique characteristics of the P.A.R.K. program, combined with other existing and continuing efforts, can help strike the fatal blow to the crisis of failing Southern education. The critical aspect of this recommendation is adaptability. In order for the specific needs of specific communities to be properly met, the programs must be dynamic, flexible, and structured to conform to and address the problems of each city in which they are implemented. The P.A.R.K. program has had a tremendous impact in the inner city of Little Rock, Arkansas, partially because it was founded by a Little Rock native. Moreover, it is run by Little Rock residents and funded by local people and businesses that care about the community. The PARK model depends upon the community taking an interest in the future of its youth. It is not the goal of this proposal to transplant P.A.R.K. into other cities; its aim is to provide an adaptable blueprint that can be adopted and transformed. Although education in the South is an expansive problem that will
require attention for generations to come, this will take the vital first step to finding a solution that will propel the South towards a better future. Bibliography
“After-school Programs Really Do Work.” The Park Progress, Winter 2009. http:// www.positivekids.org/pdfs/March%2009.pdf (accessed March 29. 2009). Associated Press, “High School Graduation Rates Plummet below 50% in some U.S. Cities”.1 April 2008; www.associated press.com (accessed March 29, 2009). “Durham Public Schools is a National Model for Great Partnership with Businesses and Corporations.” Durham Public Schools. http://www.dpsnc.net/community/business/whats-new-in-business-support/durham-public-schools-is-a-national-model-for (accessed March 29, 2009). “Former P.A.R.K. Students: Robert Irby.” Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids: P.A.R.K. www.positivekids.org/profiles/irby.htm (accessed March 29, 2009). Hewes, Robert (CPA), interview by author, Searcy, AR, Marcy 21, 2009. “High School Dropout Rates.” Child Trends Databank. http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/indicators/1highschooldropout.cfm (accessed March 29, 2009). Jackson, Jenny and Joan Lord.“Improving ACT and SAT Scores: Making Progress, Facing Challenges.” Southern Regional Education Board, (2007): 7-10. http://www.sreb. org/main/Goals/Publications/07E02_ACT_and_SAT_Test_Scores.pdf (accessed March 29, 2009). “Malnutrition Impairs U.S. Children’s Health, Behavior,” LSU AgCenter, http:// www.lsuagcenter.com/en/family_home/family/childcare/Children_Childcare/Malnu trition+Impairs+US+Childrens+Health+Behavior+Says+LSU+AgCenter+Food+and+N utrition+Expert.htm (accessed March 29, 2009). Moody, Kareem. “Blue & You Weight Loss Challenge.” The Park Progress, Summer 2008. http://www.positivekids.org/pdfs/summer08.pdf (accessed March 29. 2009). Moseley, Jack. “Those Shocking U.S. Education Statistics.” Arkansas News, August 11, 2005. http://dev2.arkansasnews.com/?s=Those+shocking+U.S.+education+statistics&x=3 1&y=10 (accessed March 29. 2009). National Center for Children in Poverty, “Geography of Low-Income Children and Families”. Report issued November 2003; www.nccp.org (accessed March 29, 2009). NCHEMS Information Center for Higher Education Policy Making and Analysis, “Public High School Graduation Rates” http://www.higheredinfo.org/dbrowser/index.p hp?submeasure=36&year=2006&level=nation&mode=graph&state=0 (accessed July 23, 2009). Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids: P.A.R.K. http://www.positivekids.org/ (accessed March 29, 2009). “Texas: State and County Quick Facts,” U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48000.html (accessed March 29, 2009).
NCHEMS Information Center for Higher Education Policy Making and Analysis, “Public High School Graduation Rates” (accessed July 23, 2009). Associated Press, “High School Graduation Rates Plummet below 50% in some U.S. Cities”.1 April 2008; www.associatedpress.com (accessed March 29, 2009).
5. 6. 7.
8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.
18. 19. 20. 21.
22. 23. 24.
National Center for Children in Poverty, “Geography of Low-Income Children and Families”. Report issued November 2003; www.nccp.org (accessed March 29, 2009). Jenny Jackson and Joan Lord, “Improving ACT and SAT Scores: Making Progress, Facing Challenges,” Southern Regional Education Board, (2007): 7-10. http://www. sreb.org/main/Goals/Publications/07E02_ACT_and_SAT_Test_Scores.pdf (accessed March 29, 2009). Ibid. Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids: P.A.R.K, http://www.positivekids.org/ (accessed March 29, 2009). NCHEMS Information Center for Higher Education Policy Making and Analysis, “Public High School Graduation Rates” http://www.higheredinfo.org/dbrowser/ index.php?submeasure=36&year=2006&level=nation&mode=graph&state=0 (accessed July 23, 2009). P.A.R.K, http://www.positivekids.org. “High School Dropout Rates,” Child Trends Databank., http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/indicators/1highschooldropout.cfm (accessed March 29, 2009). Jack Moseley, “Those Shocking U.S. Education Statistics,” Arkansas News, August 11, 2005, http://dev2.arkansasnews.com/?s=Those+shocking+U.S.+education+statisti cs&x=31&y=10 (accessed March 29. 2009). P.A.R.K, http://www.positivekids.org. “After-school Programs Really Do Work,” The Park Progress, Winter 2009, http:// www.positivekids.org/pdfs/March%2009.pdf (accessed March 29. 2009). P.A.R.K, http://www.positivekids.org. Ibid Ibid “Texas: State and County Quick Facts,” U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48000.html (accessed March 29, 2009). “Malnutrition Impairs U.S. Children’s Health, Behavior,” LSU AgCenter, http:// www.lsuagcenter.com/en/family_home/family/childcare/Children_Childcare/Maln utrition+Impairs+US+Childrens+Health+Behavior+Says+LSU+AgCenter+Food+and+ Nutrition+Expert.htm (accessed March 29, 2009). Kareem Moody, “Blue & You Weight Loss Challenge,” The Park Progress, Summer 2008, http://www.positivekids.org/pdfs/summer08.pdf (accessed March 29. 2009). P.A.R.K, http://www.positivekids.org. Robert Hewes (CPA), interview by author, Searcy, AR, Marcy 21, 2009. “Durham Public Schools is a National Model for Great Partnership with Businesses and Corporations,” Durham Public Schools, http://www.dpsnc.net/community/business/whats-new-in-business-support/durham-public-schools-is-a-national-modelfor (accessed March 29, 2009). “Durham, NC to Receive First Community Award from Chamber’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce. http://www.uschamber.com/ press/releases/2007/september/07-158.htm (accessed July 26, 2009). Robert Hewes (CPA), interview by author, Searcy, AR, Marcy 21, 2009. “Former P.A.R.K. Students: Robert Irby,” Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids: P.A.R.K, www.positivekids.org/profiles/irby.htm (accessed March 29, 2009). 49
Mandatory Impact Fees
Rocky T. Cole University of Georgia
Executive Summary • Over the past fifty years, low-density, leapfrogging development— colloquially known as urban sprawl—has become the predominant form of urban growth in America. • Neglected infrastructure, including deferred roadway maintenance, and overcrowded public schools are both negative outcomes associated with unchecked outward expansion. • Georgia has been ranked as one of the most sprawling regions in the Untied States. • Despite the early enactment of growth management legislation, Georgia has failed almost entirely to curtail sprawl. Inherent weaknesses in the Georgia Planning Act, limited funding for Smart Growth initiatives, and rigid beliefs in local autonomy continue to cripple the state’s management efforts. • Mandatory impact fees for new development, or one time fees paid by developers to finance the additional infrastructure required (i.e. roads, schools, and sewer lines), are one way the state can encourage more efficient uses of existing infrastructure, thereby ensuring that future development pays for itself. What is Urban Sprawl? Though urban sprawl is easily recognized, it proves much more difficult to define. According to urban planner David Soule, it is “low density, auto-dependent land development taking place on the edges of urban centers, often ‘leapfrogging’ away from current denser development nodes.”1 Low-density development is defined as an overall increase in the number of large homes situated on privately owned lots, accompanied by lower household densities. Leapfrogging development, a hallmark of sprawl, describes development that exponentially moves away from existing urban centers to the peripheries of large metropolitan areas where land is cheaper by ‘hopping over’ vacant or semi-developed land.2 Open space disappears in sprawling cities. Thousands of acres of farmland are converted into commercial zones, while campus style office parks appear along arterial roads.3 Georgia, specifically the Atlanta area, is one of the most sprawling regions in the United States. Between 2000 and 2007, the Atlanta population increased by 41 percent and a subsequent housing boom increased the number of new housing units by 21 percent. Almost all of this growth was low-density and oc-
curred on the peripheries of the City of Atlanta. Nine of the region’s outmost counties—Forsyth, Paulding, Gwinnett, Coweta, Pickens, Walton, Cherokee and Barrow—experienced population increases greater than 50 percent (see Appendix, Figure 1).1 The USA Today Sprawl Index, a measure of sprawl based on changes in population densities during the 1990s, ranks Atlanta as the fifth most sprawling city in America with a population over one million.5 The Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research, using a complex formula accounting for population density, amount of public space, alternative modes of transportation, etc., ranks Georgia as the 14th most sprawling state.6 In a calculation measuring levels of sprawl using temporal and geographic change published in the Urban Affairs Review, Atlanta was assigned a value of 80.65 out of 100, with 100 representing absolute sprawling development, compared to the national average of 67.97.7 Not surprisingly, Atlanta boasts the nation’s eighth longest average commute time, with residents spending an average of 27.1 minutes commuting one way to work. Moreover, 19 percent of Georgians commute more than 45 minutes one way to work, compared to the national average of 17 percent.8 The Costs of Sprawl Sprawl places enormous financial strains on cities and municipalities. Since infrastructure projects are usually funded by municipalities from property and sales taxes, capital improvements can only occur so long as cities raise adequate tax revenue. Sprawling development, by all accounts, is more expensive than compact development. It forces communities to pay for additional infrastructure—which is more expensive because of sprawl—with smaller tax bases. Unable to pay for necessary capital improvements, cities’ infrastructure falls into disrepair. Schools become overcrowded. Traffic congestion is exacerbated. In short, sprawling cities are pressured to pay for more infrastructure than they can afford, thereby decreasing the quality of life for everyone. Infrastructure Costs Perhaps the greatest cost associated with sprawl is the burden on requirements for local infrastructure. More miles of sewer lines, water lines, and roads are necessary to support increasing populations under sprawling scenarios than compact scenarios. In a 1974 landmark study now cited by Georgia and other states9 as their official assessment of sprawl, the Real Estate Research Corporation estimated the capital costs of two hypothetical communities of 10,000 housing units over a twenty year period. Two scenarios, ‘low-density sprawl’ and high density ‘planned development,’ were created based on characteristics observed in actual developments. They found that communities with lowdensity sprawl incurred 74 percent higher capital costs than planned development. Capital expenses for roads and utilities alone were 120 percent higher for the sprawl scenario, while operating expenses were a surprising 13 percent higher.10
In 2005, senior Brookings Institute Fellows Robert Burchell and Anthony Downs updated The Costs of Sprawl using two growth scenarios—sprawl and compact growth—to forecast expected infrastructure costs through the year 2025. Under the compact growth scenario, five percent of all people entering the housing market were concentrated into existing urban centers rather than undeveloped land, and the expected 52 million new development units were constructed with an expected 20 percent higher population density and 10 percent higher floor area ratios. Under the sprawling scenario, growth continued on its current trend. Again infrastructure costs were significantly higher under the sprawling scenario. Between 2000 and 2025, state governments would save an estimated 6.6 percent—or a total of $12.6 billion—on water and sewer infrastructure if growth occurred in a more compact fashion. A total of 188,305 fewer miles of road would be constructed, saving an estimated $109.7 billion.11 It should be noted that Burchell’s study measures only the hypothetical costs of sprawl—that is, it does not measure real world increases in per capita infrastructure costs. However, evidence suggests that these costs are accurate for Georgia. Each year beginning in 2000, the Georgia Municipal Association conducts a survey of approximately 500 member cities to determine the amount each expects to spend on various capital improvement projects over a five year period. In 2003, these cities reported needing an estimated $83 million for transportation improvements and $21 million for water/sewer improvements. For 2009, the same cities reported needing $263 for transportation and $386 million for water/sewer improvements (see Appendix, Figure 2). When controlled for inflation, these changes represent a 33 percent increase in per capita expenses for water/sewer infrastructure and a 126 percent increase in per capita transportation infrastructure. While urban development may naturally lead to some increased per capita infrastructure expenses, the observed increases in Atlanta are indicative of sprawling growth. If larger numbers of people were paying for a similar number of miles of road and sewer lines—in other words, if Atlanta were developing at higher densities—per capita costs could be expected to either decrease or remain constant.12 As these costs increase steeply, it is safe to attribute some of the increases to lower population densities and overall greater demands for infrastructure. In most sprawling areas, increasing pressure to provide infrastructure decreases the quality of public service and leads to overall greater fiscal deficits.13 When cities cannot provide adequate revenue to fund needed capital improvements, they simply take out low-interest loans from state authorities and engage in deficit spending. In Dr. Burchell’s study, fiscal deficits resulting from sprawl amount of roughly $4.4 billion annually at the national level, or an aggregate of $1.1 billion for Southern cities. Deficits, however, pose a particularly difficult problem for Georgia. Since the Georgia State government and many individual
cities have balanced budget amendments, deficit spending is not an option. Instead, Georgia cities face more expenditure pressures relative to their fiscal capacity than do other states; in other words, Georgia’s cities are pressured to pay for more capital improvements than they can afford.14 Large fiscal deficits in Georgia’s sprawling areas therefore translate into neglected infrastructure, much to the detriment of the entire community. Deferred Maintenance and School Overcrowding One tangible example of deferred maintenance resulting from sprawl can be seen in Georgia’s bridges and roadways. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 27 percent of America’s bridges are in disrepair. Driving on roads in need of repair costs U.S. motorists $54 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs—$275 per motorist.15 In Georgia, nearly 20 percent of all bridges are in disrepair, while driving on aging roads costs Georgians an estimated $255 million a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, or $44 per motorist.16 The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) can already point to a large backlog of necessary repairs which compete with other capital improvement projects for funding in the annual GDOT budget. Recently, 150 proposed roadway improvement projects were recently canceled due to inadequate funding.17 Sprawling development has also had negative consequences for Georgia’s public schools. Facing increasing enrollment rates, metro Atlanta counties have been forced to expand at breakneck speeds. Because of sprawling, low-density development, the counties have been unable to keep up with the demand for quality education, leading to severely overcrowded schools. Between 1995 and 2000, Georgia State University’s Fiscal Research Center tracked school enrollment rates relative to tax base increases for the entire state.18 Their results show that, in the 13 country Atlanta area, enrollment rates increased by nearly two percent more than tax bases annually. In fact, every county except Douglas and Forsyth experienced higher annual enrollment rates than tax base increases (see Appendix, Figures 3 and 4). By comparison, non-sprawling counties—most of which had positive growth rates—experienced roughly .10 percent higher tax base increases annually relative to enrollment (Appendix, Figure 5). Thus, nonsprawling areas were able to pay for their new growth, while the sprawling Atlanta area schools were left unable to provide adequate educational facilities. Overcrowded schools pose a serious risk to educational quality. As Douglas D. Ready and Valerie E. Lee show in their study of California’s school systems, the optimal size high school for all students is around 600-900 students.19 Schools in Georgia’s sprawling areas, by comparison, are bursting at the seams with an average size between 2000-3000 students. Moreover, Georgia’s response to school overcrowding has typically been to add portable classrooms. Accord-
ing to Ready and Lee’s study, the best response to school overcrowding is to build more schools—precisely the outcome least likely under sprawling growth scenarios. Responses to Sprawl: Growth Management in Georgia States possess a wide range of tools which can limit the negative effects of sprawl, and measurable steps have already been taken to contain low-density growth. In general, the different strategies employed by states to mitigate the effects of sprawl may be divided into two approaches. Statewide growth management strategies (SGMS) are ‘top-down’ attempts to limit the amount of lowdensity growth occurring within a defined area. In areas with SGMS, strong central governments direct planning and provide overall guidance for statewide development. Fee based approaches, on the other hand, represent more market driven solutions to sprawl, using taxes to reduce the negative outcomes. Impact fees, or taxes levied on new development in areas without existing infrastructure, are the most popular example of this approach. Georgia’s growth management strategy over the last thirty years includes examples of both SGMS and fee-based approaches, neither of which has proven an effective means of limiting sprawl. In 1988, Georgia tepidly entered the growth management movement by adopting the Georgia Planning Act. The act requires local governments to develop comprehensive development plans following state mandated “minimum criteria.” These criteria include annual ‘Community Assessments’ of economic and physical growth patterns, ‘Community Outreach’ programs in which Georgians provide feedback on development, and local governments’ participation in the Quality Growth Objectives, which is a non-binding survey asking such questions as “are bicycle lanes a part of your comprehensive plan?” The comprehensive plans are then submitted to one of twelve Regional Development Centers—now designated as Regional Development Commissions (RDC) under a 2008 amendment—for review and comment. Local governments are deemed either in compliance or noncompliance with the Planning Act. Those plans deemed in compliance then become eligible to receive state funding for capital improvement loans from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) and the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). Impact fees also play a role in Georgia’s growth management strategy. As a part of the movement which led to the adoption of the Planning Act, the Georgia Legislature enacted the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act in 1990 to promote “orderly growth and development by establishing uniform standards” by which municipalities and counties may require that new growth and development pay a “proportionate share” of the cost of new public facilities needed to serve new growth and development.20 The act authorized local governments
to levy impact fees on capital improvement projects to be calculated on the basis of “levels of service” for public facilities that are adopted in the municipal or county comprehensive plan. Impact fees under the legislation are applicable to existing development, as well as the new growth.21 Despite Georgia’s early entrance into the growth management movement, the Georgia Planning Act has failed to curtail sprawl.22 As the report of the Growth Strategies Reassessment Task Force noted in 1998, “the casual observer could probably conclude that land use and development patterns during the 10 years since adoption of Growth Strategies have changed little from what was happening before Growth Strategies.”23 With the exception of gentrification movements in select Atlanta areas, the same remains true in 2008.24 Inherent weaknesses in the Planning Act, as well as a lack of regional coordination in the state, continue to allow sprawl in Georgia. In the words of Cobb County Commissioner and Chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission, Sam Olens, “The Planning Act has no teeth.”25 The twelve RDCs which prepare regional comprehensive development plans lack authority to enforce the implementation of these plans, and consequently, the plans are mitigated to procedural guidelines containing no real measures for directing or limiting growth. The Planning Act fails to specify long-term goals for development, citing only a need “to assist local governments to participate in an orderly process for coordinated and comprehensive planning… which will develop and promote the essential public interests of the state and its citizens….”26 Little additional funding is provided for plans trending toward Smart Growth (growth aimed at revitalizing urban centers), and the phrases Smart Growth, higher density or desirable growth are nowhere to be found in the Act. As the Task Force noted, “the state has provided no guidance as to what types of plans or decisions related to growth or development patterns are preferred.”27 In short, the state has failed to develop a practical solution for ensuring that municipalities have the resources they need to develop adequate infrastructure. Policy Recommendation Despite Georgia’s history of popular aversion to strong growth management programs, a looming shift in the state’s political climate may open wide the door for increased state regulation. Unhappy with long commute times and overcrowded schools, Georgians are becoming increasingly aware of sprawl’s negative consequences.28 The rise of political figures opposed to sprawling development hints toward a new future for Atlanta area residents. Recent amendments to the Georgia Planning Act providing additional funding to Regional Development Centers and a ballot initiative to create Infrastructure Development Districts suggest that municipalities are willing to further engage in re-
gional planning. As Georgia’s population will almost certainly reach 12 million by 2030—and the total number of housing units in Atlanta will almost certainly reach 2 million in the same time period—now is the time to adopt meaningful legislation to guide development into the 21st century.29 New legislation will need to look far beyond Georgia’s current development patterns: to assume that growth will proceed as it did throughout the 1990s would be naïve. As Chairman Olens notes, the Golden Age of Sprawl may be coming to an end. Natural market forces, i.e. a demand for more ‘traditional forms of growth,’ may begin to marginally correct sprawling development; thus, any beneficial anti-sprawl legislation will need to avoid simply adding additional layers of bureaucracy that Georgia policymakers view as ineffective. Further, although Georgians routinely express disdain for traffic congestion and overcrowded schools, a radical overhaul of Georgia’s growth management strategy remains far from tenable. So what can, and should, be done? One option is to change the way capital improvements are financed. Mandating that local governments levy impact fees when they cannot raise enough revenue to fund necessary infrastructure projects is one way Georgia can ensure that future development pays for itself. Mandatory Capital Improvement Impact Fees Impact fees shift the costs of the required infrastructure for new communities to the developers and new residents. When a new development is proposed, local municipalities evaluate the additional burden the development will place on existing infrastructure. If the new development cannot be integrated into the existing infrastructure, more must be built. When local governments cannot raise enough revenue to pay for the additional infrastructure, they have several options. They can raise taxes or divert general funds from activities such as public savings. They can defer maintenance or accept congested facilities/inadequate infrastructure. Or, they can choose to levy a tax on the new development to offset the costs of the new infrastructure minus existing revenue streams (property taxes, sales tax, etc.). When municipalities are limited by anti-taxation sentiments, impact fees become the best option for funding capital improvements without diverting general funds. If municipalities do levy impact fees, firms respond by attempting to shift the additional costs of the fee back to consumers or landowners. This shift results in either higher housing prices or lower land values. By increasing the cost of converting undeveloped land through forcing developers and consumers to pay for the additional infrastructure cost, firms are encouraged to fully utilize existing infrastructure. Higher housing prices in undeveloped areas decrease demand for those homes resulting, effectively, in a tax on sprawling development.30 Since impact fees provide municipalities with much needed revenue for capital
improvement, they have the added value of promoting economic growth and increasing overall infrastructure quality. Impact fees are an excellent option for Georgia’s cities struggling to catch up with needed capital improvements. According to the interviews conducted for this research, impact fees are generally viewed by Georgia policymakers as a necessary element of responsible growth.31 Unfortunately, however, a general fear of their misuse limits widespread implementation of such exactions. The State Legislature should therefore amend the Georgia Development Impact Fee Act O.C.G.A. § 36-71-3(a) to read “Municipalities and counties reaching ‘Intermediate’ and ‘Advanced Planning Levels’ (specific levels of density and development) which have adopted a comprehensive plan containing a capital improvements element, when unable to raise adequate revenue to meet system improvement costs, are required to impose by ordinance development impact fees as a condition of development approval on all development pursuant to and in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.” The fees would continue to be calculated on a service area a basis and would be application only in situations where the: Total System Improvement Costs - Existing Revenue Streams > $0 For example, if total system improvement costs—i.e. the total costs for developing new infrastructure—equal $10, 000 per housing unit in a particular subdivision, and the municipal government can allocate only $5,000 from property and sales tax revenue per unit, the developer would be charged a $5,000 per unit fee to offset the additional costs. If the total system improvement costs equaled $10,000 and municipalities raised enough revenue to allocate the full $10,000 per unit towards infrastructure without diverting general funds from other areas, no impact fees would be required. As the DCA notes in an official publication describing local planning requirements, cities and counties across the state are diverse in terms of size, growth rate, economic base, and environmental and geographic conditions. Their needs, concerns and goals for the future differ dramatically.32 Impact fees are only efficient in areas with robust new growth, because they apply only to developments which require the construction of additional infrastructure. For this reason, the proposed amendment should be conditional upon municipalities experiencing positive economic growth rates. Municipalities experiencing shrinking economies, as measured by rising unemployment rates and tax base declines, should be exempt from levying impact fees. Further, as with any state mandate, some degree of state oversight is necessary. The state cannot simply mandate that local governments collect impact fees
and expect absolute compliance. The legislature should therefore include in the proposed amendment a clause linking qualifications for major state grants and low-interest loans to compliance with the Impact Fee Act. If municipalities refuse to levy fees when it is clear they cannot pay for necessary infrastructure, as defined by O.C.G.A. § 36-71-2, funding from GEFA and GDOT should be withheld until municipalities comply. Benefits Mandatory impact fees as an alternative method for funding capital improvements would entail great benefits for Georgia’s cities. First and foremost, requiring municipalities to levy impact fees instead of deferring maintenance or diverting general funds will both limit sprawling development and ensure that future growth in Georgia pays for itself. Since the additional costs of the impact fees will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher housing prices, mandatory impact fees can be seen as a tax on sprawling development. If consumers truly wish to enjoy the benefits of sprawling development, they will be able to do so, but will simply pay more to engage in a sprawling lifestyle. Developers, on the other hand, will recognize that if they raise housing prices too much too quickly, they risk lowering demand and thereby limiting their profits. Accordingly, they will find more efficient uses for existing infrastructure in order to avoid paying exorbitant impact fees. In the end, Georgia cities can expect the higher housing prices to be more than offset by firms finding more efficient uses of existing infrastructure. The risk that housing prices will rise steeply and limit access to housing markets is therefore limited. Another benefit of mandating impact fees is that they would lower financial and political pressure on municipalities to expand basic infrastructure requirements and focus on long-term development. Since, local governments receive a majority of their funding from property and sales taxes, more development translates into more revenue. Georgia has a large number of local governments and one of the most fragmented political systems in the country. As Burchell notes, these sprawling conditions “create a never-ending upward spiral of costs” which does not end once municipalities construct new water and sewer infrastructure. Increased usage of city infrastructure puts more pressure on governments to conduct capital improvements. Since tax bases are smaller under sprawling scenarios, local governments often compete for development that will expand their property tax bases by offering tax incentives and favorable zoning regulations for new development. Adopting more restrictive development regulations runs the risk of turning developers away to neighboring jurisdictions. Under these conditions, impact fees are a more efficient way to pay for infrastructure improvements than taxes. As the fees make the linkage between those benefitting from the infrastructure and those paying for the costs more
direct, economic efficiency would be increased. Since cities would have a guaranteed source of funding for necessary capital improvements, they would face less financial and political pressure to expand their tax bases. This would allow them to focus on long-term development goals, such as providing necessary roadways, bridges and parks, as well as increasing the overall quality of public service, such as education. Mandatory impact fees would therefore constitute a step toward ending the ‘vicious cycles of sprawl’ now plaguing some Georgia communities. Challenges The greatest challenge to mandating the use of development impact fees is a widespread belief by Georgia’s policymakers and elected officials that fees slow overall economic growth. Empirical evidence shows, on the contrary, that even under worse case scenarios impact fees have no negative effects on job growth. Some studies even suggest that impact fees may increase the amount of mixed-use developments in a community, which in turn catalyzes aggregate job growth.33 As a rule, however, impact fees should not exceed the costs of infrastructure apportioned to the development net of other revenues used to finance the same project—that is, if other government funding is available to partially subsidize capital improvements, the impact fee should not exceed the costs of development less existing revenue streams.34 Under any other circumstances, impact fees promote deadweight losses of efficiency in the form of higher housing prices or lower land values with no appreciable economic benefits. The proposed mandatory impact fees avoid this pitfall by adhering to the method for calculating fees laid out by O.C.G.A. § 36-71-4(a) in which development impact fees shall not exceed “a proportionate share of the cost of system improvements.” Under this amendment to the Impact Fee Act, ‘proportionate share’ is defined as the difference between total infrastructure costs minus existing revenue streams. Moreover, O.C.G.A. § 36-71-4(L)(1) provides a clear loophole for municipalities to exempt certain projects from impact fees if they are “determined to create extraordinary economic development and employment growth or affordable housing,” thereby mitigating concerns about stifling meaningful economic growth. Mandatory statewide impact fees do, however, face several technical limitations. First, not all local governments in Georgia have equal personnel or operating budgets. It is not unusual to find urban planners doubling as clerks in smaller, more rural municipalities. Some municipalities may simply lack the necessary manpower to collect or impose the required fees. Therefore, only those municipalities classified as ‘Intermediate’ and ‘Advanced’ should be required to collect exactions. Because Intermediate and Advanced planning zones are larger metropolitan areas with vast resources and manpower, this provision of the policy will ensure that smaller municipalities are not overburdened by state
requirements. All other municipalities should retain the current authority to levy impact fees if they so choose. Second, policymakers will likely view this proposal as an attempt to increase state control over local development guidelines, citing the fact that impact fees are not one size fits all as reasonable evidence that the fees only increase bureaucracy. Given that some communities are able to raise more revenue than others, thereby affecting the rates necessary to offset development costs, such criticism is not unreasonable. But this proposed policy accounts for the fact that local governments have greater abilities to estimate their projected expenditures—the calculation, levying, and collection of impact fees remains the responsibility of local governments. The state is simply requiring local governments to levy fees to offset the costs of building new infrastructure. Overall, this policy is less invasive than the 1988 Georgia Planning Act, which required extensive local comprehensive planning and state oversight of local development. With this policy, the state would only have oversight authority if communities refused to levy impact fees when they could not afford to build required new infrastructure. Conclusion Despite Georgia’s early implementation of a growth management strategy, the Atlanta area has become one of the most sprawling in the nation. Widespread political opposition to state intervention limits Georgia’s ability to control lowdensity development to largely ceremonial procedures in the form of local comprehensive planning. With a shift in the political climate looming, a window of opportunity for reinvigorating Georgia’s growth management strategy may be opening. Owing to the heavy fiscal and social costs of sprawling development, Georgia should take advantage of this opportunity and enact meaningful reforms to guide development into the 21st century. Mandatory statewide impact fees would be a more efficient way to finance capital improvements. Works Cited
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Soule, David C. (Ed.), Urban Sprawl: A Comprehensive Reference Guide, (Westport: Greendwood, 2006). Burchell, Robert W., Anthony Downs, Barbara McCann and Sahan Mukherji, Sprawl Costs: Economic Impacts of Unchecked Development, (Washington: Island, 2005). Gillham and MacLean, “The Limitless City: A Primer on the Urban Sprawl Debate”, (Washington: Island, 2002). Atlanta Regional Commission Technical Reports: Population Element, Public Facilities Element, and Transportation Element (2004). See http://www.usatoday.com/news/sprawl/main.htm Sprawl Costs: Economic Impacts of Unchecked Development Lopez, Russ, Hynes, H. Patricia “Sprawl In The 1990s: Measurement, Distribution, 61
and Trends,” Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 38, No. 3, (2003): 325-355. 8. U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 American Community Survey 9. For example, Colorado, California, New Mexico and South Carolina. 10. Burchell, Robert, “Conventional Development Versus Managed Growth: The Costs of Sprawl,” American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 93, No. 9, (September 2003): 1534-1540. 11. Ibid. 12. Heimlich, Ralph E. and William D. Anderson, “Development at the Urban Fringe and Beyond: Impacts on Agriculture and Rural Land,” United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER803), June 2001. 13. Ibid 14. Tannewald, Robert and Nicholas Turner, State Tax Notes, May 23, 2005: 585-598, In the 2005 Fiscal Impact report, produced by the Georgia State University Fiscal Research Center. 15. American Society of Civil Engineers, “2008 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure State Fact Sheets,” http://www.asce.org/reportcard/2005/page.cfm?id=145 16. American Society of Civil Engineers, “2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure: Georgia,” http://www.asce.org/reportcard/2005/page.cfm?id=50 17. “DOT Stopping Work on 150 Projects, Trimming Fast Forward Progam, Insiders Say” Insider Advantage News Service, http://www.insideradvantagegeorgia.com. 18. Hawkins, Richard, “Does Growth Pay for Itself? Property Tax Trends for Schools in Georgia,” Georgia State University FRC Report No. 57, January 2002. 19. Ready, Douglas D. and Valerie E. Lee, “Educational Equity and School Structure: School Size, Overcrowding, and Schools-Within-Schools,” Teachers College Record, Vol. 106, Iss. 10, (2004). 20. Georgia Development Impact Fee Act of 1990, O.C.G.A. § 36-71-1 (2008) 21. Ibid. 22. While no official survey of public officials or DCA publication makes this claim, my own interviews with such officials confirmed that an overwhelming consensus of Georgia’s policymakers believe the Planning Act has no role in effecting growth patterns. In fact, many view the Department of Community Affairs as mere bureaucracy. 23. Georgia Growth Strategies Reassessment Task Force, “Georgia’s Future: Beyond Growth Strategies,” December 1998. A document procured from DCA. 24. Interviews. 25. Interview with Chairman Olens 26. Georgia Planning Act of 1988, O.C.G.A. § 50-8-30 (2008) 27. “Georgia’s Future: Beyond Growth Strategies.” 28. Interviews with state representatives, public officials and urban planners. 29. Atlanta Regional Commission Technical Reports: Housing Element (2004), http:// www.atlantaregional.com/documents/lu_rdp_ch6_housing_12_04.pdf 30. Been, Vicki, “Impact Fees and Housing Affordability,” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, Vol. 1, No. 8, (2005): 139-185. 31. Based on interviews with over 20 high ranking public officials. 32. “Rules of Georgia Department of Community Affairs Chapter 110-12-1 Standards and Procedures for Local Comprehensive Planning,” Department of Community Affairs, Retrieved from http://www.dca.state.ga.us/development/PlanningQualityGrowth/programs/downloads/MinimumStandardsAdopted.pdf.
33. Ihlanfeldt, Keith and Timothy H. Shaughnessy, “An Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Impact Fees on Housing and Land Markets,” Presented at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy 34. Conference: Analysis of Urban Land Markets and the Impact of Land Market Regulation, July 2002. Nelson, Arthur C. and Mitch Moody, “Paying for Prosperity: Impact Fees and Job Growth,” A discussion paper prepared for the Brookings Institution Center for Urban and Metropolitan Policy. http://www.brookings.edu/reports/ 2003/06metropolitanpolicy_nelson.aspx.
See following page for Appendix.
Figure 1. Percent Change in Total Housing Units (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
Figure 2: Per Capita Infrastructure Costs Adjusted For Inflation (Source: Georgia Municipal Association Capital Improvement Survey, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008)
Figure 3: Percent Change in Tax Base Size vs. Public School Enrollment in the 13 County Atlanta Area (Source: GSU Fiscal Research Center)
Figure 4: Percent Change in Tax Base Size vs. Public School Enrollment in Sprawling Counties (Source: GSU Fiscal Research Center)
Figure 5: Percent Change in Tax Base Size vs. Public School Enrollment in Non-Sprawling Counties (Source: GSU Fiscal Research Center)
Child Care Foundations
Lauren Coleman University of Georgia
Executive Summary • Athens-Clarke County (ACC), categorized as one of the 91 persistently poor counties in Georgia, faces a staggering 28.3 percent poverty rate.1 • While a host of issues contribute to the fiscal instability of local families, adequate funding for child care continues to be a problem. • In an effort to more consistently address child care needs, the ACC government should engage in a public-private partnership with local businesses to administer child care subsidies to a broader subset of the Athens population. • Drawing upon a pre-existing Georgia tax credit and additional local funding, Athens businesses will pay 75 percent of employee child care costs directly to accredited child care centers selected by the individual workers. • The local ACC government must establish a third party administrative committee as a means to maintain personal information privacy and establish recommended subsidy figures. • Over a period of 5 years, as companies start to see benefits such as reduced turnover, higher morale, and decreased absenteeism, ACC will gradually remove additional funding. • Additional benefits include more flexible child care options, increased disposable household income, higher rates of accredited enrollment, and a strengthened focus on quality facilities. • A program similar to this proposal found success in local Athens business, burton+Burton. Additionally, burton+Burton utilizes the same tax credit publicized within this proposal, found within the Official Code of Georgia section 48-7-40.6.2 Introduction Athens-Clarke County (ACC), Georgia, struggles with a startling poverty rate of 28.3 percent and has approximately 26,000 residents living in poverty.3 Recently, however, the community has fostered a public discourse on how to reduce poverty through the advocacy group Partners for a Prosperous Athens (PPA), which later developed into the OneAthens Foundation. This group recognizes that the task of reducing poverty is multi-faceted, requiring a substantial effort in a variety of policy domains, ranging from affordable housing to vocational education initiatives. Specifically, the OneAthens foundation recognizes that increased access to early childhood care for the Athens community is vital to
attaining the general goal of poverty reduction. Early childhood care and developmental programs have the potential to attack poverty by decreasing educational disparities between children as they enter kindergarten. Currently, the costs for families to invest in child care are staggering and generally comprise a sizeable percentage of total household income. The insufficient funds currently allocated to child care subsidization are limiting what low-income families can do to better the lives of their children while still managing an attainable household budget. In an effort to support the working families of ACC, the local government, in a partnership with the Athens area Chamber of Commerce and the OneAthens Foundation, should introduce in an initiative encouraging businesses to provide direct subsidies for child care. The ACC government will provide incentives for companies to participate by utilizing current tax credits available from the state of Georgia and direct funding from the county. Once local employers participate in this practice, companies will experience non-monetary benefits, such as increased morale and reduced turnover. Through this partnership, the ACC government can expand the community’s battle with poverty, inviting cooperation between local officials, businesses, and the current anti-poverty movement headed by the OneAthens Foundation. Background: What is at Stake? Acknowledging the importance of early childhood programs in a child’s development, the U.S. Congress and the Georgia General Assembly have allocated significant amounts of money to implementing early childhood initiatives such as Head Start, Even Start, and Pre-Kindergarten. Head Start and Even Start programs aim to serve disadvantaged and low-income families by mandating 90 percent of funding assist children at or below the federally calculated poverty line.4 However, in FY 2008 President George W. Bush failed to request additional funds for early childhood education. Providing an additional 148 million dollars in Head Start funding, his budget only accounted for increases due to inflation.5 While the total amount money approved by Congress is a large sum, it is insufficient for the growing needs of child care and education programs across the nation. Pre-Kindergarten programs are funded by individual states, with Georgia establishing funding through the Georgia Lottery. The state of Georgia has one of the most far reaching programs in the country, serving nearly 74,000 families in 2006. Additionally, further federal funding is available through a variety of grants, such as The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). While there are several programs available at the state level, families in AthensClarke County (ACC), and particularly low-income households, face a limited set of affordable child care options. Free programs, including Pre-Kindergarten,
Head Start, and Even Start, already have sizeable waiting lists. The waiting list for Pre-Kindergarten in ACC was equal to nearly 40 percent of 2006 enrollment, forcing 198 children to look to other sources for assistance. Even more staggering was the 2006 waiting list of 154 children for Head Start programs.6 As of September 2008, 6,218 children either have both mother and father or their sole caregiver in the work force. Of that group of children, only 3,324 children were in some form of regulated care, leaving approximately 2,894 children either without care or in unaccredited programs.7 Accredited institutions are child care facilities that have undergone a process of training and assessment overseen by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning.8 For those not enrolled in free programs, the average cost of providing private care is approximately $5,900 per year for an infant. That figure comprises 20.8 percent of median family income in Clarke County.9 To reduce this cost, some subsidies, provided by the Family and Child Services (DFCS) division of the Georgia Department of Human Resources, are available to partially pay for child care programs. However, guidelines for subsidies are fairly restrictive. For a single parent and one child to receive the funding, the annual household income must be no higher than $21,120. Additionally, the guardian must meet a minimum work requirement of 30 hours per week. In four person households, a maximum income of $32,000 is required along with 30 hours a week for both parents in order to receive DFCS subsidies. Furthermore, parents attending a four-year college or university are not eligible for the subsidy.10 In addition to families facing hardships, reduced access to child care limits the productivity and success companies derive from their employees. When employees face balancing a healthy family life and maintaining their job, it is often the businesses that are penalized. In a survey of five major corporations, 82 percent of working employees reported missing work, leaving early, or arriving late due to difficulties with child care. Similarly, supervision arrangements fall through for one in four employees at least once a month due to unreliable care.11 Cases such as these leave employers with little or no notice to adjust and account for workplace disruptions. A Plan to Increase Access Increasing access to child care in ACC is an essential step to improving the lives of both children and parents troubled by high child care costs. Naturally, addressing the problems associated with increasing access to child care must occur before the quality of care inside the classroom can improve. However, getting funding for child care programs is typically a post facto occurrence, meaning socioeconomic diversity must be present in programs prior to the allocation of federal or state funding. While increasing government funding can
be a difficult task due to the number of competing interests, approaching the problem from a different angle may be advantageous. Instead of utilizing money directly from the government, employers can serve as a source of reliable funding for employees’ child care needs. Athens-Clarke County should implement an employer-based subsidy initiative. In this program, the local government would strongly encourage employers to provide up to 75 percent of the costs of employee child care expenditures, with a total $5,000 cap. Based on a sliding scale that evaluates total income and percentages of income spent on child care, a third party local government committee would determine the appropriate funding level for each employee. The scale would be configured by the county as a baseline for all companies involved in the program. The government administration committee, as its first task, needs to constitute an upper eligibility limit for total family income. Families or individuals above this limit are ineligible for any funding from their employer. Then, as families’ total family incomes decrease, the percentage of child care costs paid by the employer would increase.12 For each family, the sliding scale determines money provided by the subsidy as a set percentage of the family’s total child care expenditures. Figure 1: Proposed Model, U.S. Office of Personnel and Management
Total Family Income 60,001 and above 45,001 - 60,000 26,001 - 45,000 26,000 and under % Total Child Care Cost Paid by Company 0 30 40 70
*Numbers are based on U.S. Office of Personnel and Management recommendations. Companies should use the most recent income data to establish a scale that fits best for the demographics of Athens. The scale should also be adjusted as costs of living rise.13 **Example: If a family’s total income is $50,000 and its total annual cost of childcare is $6,000, the company pays 30% ($2,000) and the family pays the remainder ($4,000).
In acquiring the subsidies, employees would disclose the total income of the household, the child care provider, and the cost of the child care program to the third party government committee as a privacy protection safeguard. In order to ensure that quality centers are the sole recipients of funding, the program requires all providers attain or hold NAEYC accreditation. After careful evaluation of the forms and background checks on centers by the ACC committee, the group will make subsidy figure recommendations to employers on behalf of the given companies’ employee applicants. After receiving subsidy recommendations, employers would make direct payments to the approved child care centers selected by their employees. By providing child care facilities with payments directly, companies can ensure that the money is going to child care
rather than other employee expenditures.14 The finance department’s office of management and budget will house the third party committee mentioned earlier. Consisting of current department employees, the committee will employ demographic data in order to devise the subsidy funding scale. After laying the foundational guidelines, the committee will receive, review, and make funding recommendations for enrolled businesses. The committee will also communicate with the revenue department and consider the level of county funding awarded to participating companies. In addition to handling the administrative aspects of this program, the ACC committee would also select a liaison to both the OneAthens Foundation and the Athens Chamber of Commerce. These representatives will inform the organizations about the progress of the project while also noting advice and recommendations. Each of these partnerships allows the subsidy program to prosper under the supervision of both child care advocates and business professionals. Finally, increased community involvement also produces a degree of transparency vital to the survival of the initiative. Georgia currently offers a 75 percent tax credit for companies that provide assistance to employees so long as the credit does not account for more than 50 percent of the taxpayer’s taxable income liability for the corresponding fiscal year.15 The 75 percent tax credit accounts for the direct investment employers make for dependent care, including child care assistance. This provision in state law already provides a large incentive needed to encourage employer funded child care, yet the tax incentive is grossly underused.16 Therefore, as a necessary first step in attracting businesses to participate the program, the ACC Chamber of Commerce needs to publicize the tax credit to local employers through newsletters, meetings, and direct engagement. Critical to the overall success of this program is communication with the entirety of the Athens area workforce, not simply owners and managerial staff. The ACC government initially will fund the remaining 25 percent of child care costs incurred by employers through an increase in the current tax on liquor and beer sales. The necessary tax increase will depend on how many companies participate in the program. In the first year of operation, ACC government would provide the remaining 25 percent of total funding, making the program cost neutral for participating employers. Then, over a five-year period, ACC would gradually decrease funding as companies began to see returns on their investment. Then as the county phases out funding for the program, the money collected from the tax increase could then finance other Athens area projects, serve as an alternative source of revenue, or face removal, depending on community sentiment.
By making the program cost neutral to employers, ACC is providing an opportunity for companies to experiment and experience the benefits of a program that was likely unfeasible for many employers to apply on their own. Furthermore, ACC funding is designed to be the primary initial incentive for companies to participate so that even the most skeptical companies will not see a negative impact on their returns As the program gains momentum, companies will likely see benefits such as reduced turnover, improved recruiting benefits, and decreased absenteeism. The savings derived from these benefits will eventually take the place and hopefully surpass the funding provided in the initial stages of the program. It is important to note that companies are not required, but strongly encouraged, to participate in the employer subsidy program. By providing large incentives, including direct funding from the ACC government, businesses will recognize the advantages of such a program. Additionally, with publicity that reaches not only management, but all employees, businesses will most likely see an increase in employee demand, leading to further encouragement for program enrollment. Benefits: Who Wins? Employer based child care not only helps working parents afford care for their children during working hours but also benefits children, employers, and the community as a whole. Employer subsides essentially ensure that employees receive a form of reliable funding for child care. Instead of employees using a fluctuating portion of their salary to pay for child care expenses, the company pays a large part of the expense, leaving formerly allocated child care expenditures as other disposable income. This policy also results in children receiving better care. For example, parents may decide to use their subsidy to move from their existing center to a better quality but more expensive center since they will have more financial flexibility. Furthermore, families that formerly resorted to unaccredited care will have the opportunity to use their subsidy to place their children in centers designed aid in early childhood development. The ACC requires employees to demonstrate that their children are in licensed centers, reducing the number of children in unregulated care. Licensed child care providers must meet specific baseline requirements, set forth by the NAEYC ensuring at least some form of quality. Conversely, unregulated facilities have no means of accountability. Families can also select a center that is conveniently located near their home or workplace, allowing employees to reduce daily travel time and expenses by incorporating a facility that is on their regular route. The program designed subsidies as a way give employees a considerable amount of options when selecting a child care center that is better suited for their family. An increase in
funding would allow more options and fewer restrictions, allowing each household to choose what provider best serves their children and their family.17 Additionally, heightened participation in such a program will benefit the entire community in the long-term. An increased number of children enrolled in early childhood care programs will likely lead to more prepared children as they enter kindergarten. With the advent of this program, many families who could not afford child care and or remained on extensive waitlists for free or subsidized programs will have increased alternatives and finally obtain the ability to provide care for their children. In addition, the mandate that all centers receiving the subsidy are required to be accredited will ensure that the quality of care that is provided will see an improvement. As of right now, 2,894 Clarke County children are in unregulated care, leaving their development uncertain.18 While there may not be enough space currently to take in all of the children in need, there are approximately 500 spaces and additional centers working to meet accreditation requirements.19 Furthermore, the increased demand will encourage new centers and business opportunities. Lastly, the increased need for child care will facilitate competitive prices, making care generally more affordable. Employers have a positive stake in this program, as well. By providing increased funding for dependent care, employers can see benefits not only within their working environments but also in the success of their businesses. First, providing a reimbursement for child care provides companies the opportunity to recruit workers who may otherwise be constrained by income or child care options. National data collected by the Families and Work Institute states that one in three parents are willing to change employers if child care options, including the availability of vouchers or direct financial assistance, are available.20 Thus, benefits that re-enforce the ability for families to provide adequate necessities will attract a broad and competitive workforce to the Athens area. Child care benefits also provide incentives for employees to stay in jobs, reducing turnover for employers. The cost of hiring and training new employees can have immense impacts on company expenditures. In fact, research suggests that the average cost of replacing working parent employees is up to 75 to 150 percent of annual salary costs.21 Providing employer-based assistance can curb the cost of replacing workers. In a study of companies that provided some sort of child care assistance, 37 percent reported reduced turnover.22 Improved morale and employee satisfaction are also known benefits of providing subsidies for child care. A 1995 conference board survey conducted by the Department of the Treasury found that 62 percent of companies with such programs reported higher morale among employees.23 Child care subsidization can increase employee satisfaction by allowing more flexibility in employee’s personal budgets and decreasing financially related stress.
Companies have shown significant returns on their investments in child care and pro-family initiatives. The First Tennessee Bank reported reduced turnover costs of $1 million annually through increased funding for child care initiatives.24 Within the first nine months of starting an employer funded child care program, Honeywell determined that the company saved $45,000 above the initial investment.25 Additionally, the family-work programs, including flexible child care accounts, at Waste Management led to a $1,400 net savings resulting from reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and fewer benefit claims.26 Finally, longitudinal studies have demonstrated high marginal returns on investments made on early childhood programs. Three influential studies stand out: High/Scope Perry Preschool Project, the Abecedarian Project, and the Chicago Child-Parent Centers.27 Each of these studies, conducted over extended periods of time, make a point to track participants into adulthood while comparing students who did and did not receive pre-kindergarten care. All three studies demonstrated higher successes in education and both the Perry and Abecedarian projects reported greater employment success.28 In the Perry Preschool project 71 percent of students who received early childhood care graduated from high school, where only 54 percent of the control group received high school degrees. Additionally, 70 percent of childhood program participants in the Abecedarian project were employed at the age of 21 while only 58 percent of control group members had employment at the same age. Finally, for every $1 spent on participants public benefits ranged from $7.16 from $2.69, meaning that the money spent provided gains not only for participating individuals but also the communities involved.29 Overall, these longitudinal studies demonstrate that increased investments in child care can have long-term effects that will continue to benefit the community long after initial investments are made. Case Study: burton + BURTON Burton + BURTON (b+B), a family-owned ACC company, has implemented a program similar to the one outlined here. When company employees were having difficulty paying for the high costs of child care in Athens, b+B started a program in which the company provided up to 75 percent of child care costs with a $5,000 cap on funding. Parents who receive the subsidy are required to pay the remaining 25 percent of child care costs. To attain the funding, full-time employees complete a contract with the employer and the child care provider. Employees must speak with the center director of their respective child care provider and present them with the contract, verifying their cooperation with the plan. After completing the contract, employees are responsible for filing an either weekly or monthly invoice with the Department of Human Resources, which sends payment to centers directly. Married employees who file separately face individual caps of $2,500. In addition, employees can only participate in one child care reimbursement plan, meaning the funding must be the sole
source of child care assistance for a given employee.30 Since the program’s activation in January of 2001, burton+Burton employees consistently continue to utilize available funding. Employees have responded positively according to b+B’s Director of Human Resources, suggesting the subsidy allows for increased flexibility with their already designated salaries.31 In 2006, 92 employees took advantage of the company-funded program with a yearly cost of $258,074.35. Eighty-six employees used the program in 2007, costing b+B a total of $244,928.70 for the entire year. Currently, 75 employees are receiving funding from b+B and the cost of this year’s program thus far is $ 189,803.70.32 Burton + BURTON takes advantage of a tax provision provided by the state of Georgia, in which they receive a 75 percent tax credit for their investments. Their policy, while similar to the program outlined within this paper, was started voluntarily and operates independently of direct government oversight. However, the tax credit utilized and publicized by the burton+Burton program is the same provision in the Georgia tax code outlined in the previous sections. The funding they provide allows the company to receive the tax credit outlined within the Official Code of Georgia section 48-7-40.6 and to be on a tax advantaged basis under Code Section 129, Rule 560-7-8.38.33 Obstacles to Implementation While a program of this nature has the potential to benefit the Athens community, there are several obstacles to implementation. First, it is hard to estimate business support for the program. Starting employer subsidies will have high up front costs that will not be offset until companies receive tax credits from both state and local returns. This initial cost may be too much of a burden for companies to bear. Small businesses are especially subject to this barrier since their contributions to child care subsidies may account for a higher percentage of their total revenue. While this may seem to be a powerful criticism, it is important to note that structure of the policy is designed to be sensitive to start up cost and low initial returns. Although reimbursements from state and county agencies will not come before the start of such a program, they should be received within close enough proximity of the time of implementation to justify initial investments. Another potential challenge is the amount of existing space in Athens child care centers. The current child care statistics demonstrate a disparity in the number of children in non-licensed care for and the number of available spaces in Athens child care and learning centers. Data collected from the Child Care Research and Referral agency located in Athens states that there are approximately 575 vacancies throughout the county.34 While that number is only
one-fourth of the space actually needed, other agents within the OneAthens Foundation are working to increase availability and space. Unfortunately, no one policy change can effectively fix all of the structural problems present in Athens-Clarke County. However, the policy presented here attempts to combat the problem of inadequate funding while PPA works to increase space. Additionally, with the implementation of this policy and the likely increase in child care demand, the child care market will hopefully become more competitive and better suit the community at large. The employer-based subsidy proposed within this paper may also appear to be a completely government-funded program. This notion oversimplifies the proposed policy. First, one must consider that the 25 percent funding provided by ACC will be gradually removed over a five year period, shifting some of the burden back to businesses. The state credits, unlike appropriated money, will also reduce wasteful spending by being applied after the exact cost of providing the benefit is already known. Therefore, while the program proposed here is somewhat reliant on the government, the manner in which funding is administered is more efficient and cost effective for the state. Moreover, in the current volatile economic climate, one could argue that providing a tax credit rather than large amounts of appropriated funding may be a more efficient and time sensitive mechanism for providing child care support. Now, more than in the recent past, access to economical child care and increased income flexibility has the potential to positively impact the economy. Another potential weakness of this policy lies in finding support for the tax increase on beer and liquor. Garnering support for tax increases given the current economic climate could prove difficult and this proposal will likely face some opposition. However, the proposed increase is small considering the culture of Athens nightlife, along with its co-existence with the University of Georgia and robust college population. Athens-Clarke County, while holding the title of smallest county in the state of Georgia, has nearly 2.6 licensed alcohol distributors per square mile indicating that alcohol consumption is prevalent within the county.35 Additionally, if handled correctly, the minimal tax increase could be presented to the community as an investment for the betterment of the entire community. Similar to the implementation of the Georgia Lottery to fund the HOPE scholarship program, the policy advocated here is working as a “sin” tax drawing revenue from a less socially accepted activity to further community development. Lastly, rather than all ACC residents facing a tax increase, only individuals who choose to partake in alcohol consumption will be impacted. Establishing a good oversight mechanism may also be difficult to develop. The county may not be able to devote enough energy into monitoring such a program, ultimately leaving the program to deteriorate. However, the creation of a county government administration committee, along with the partnerships with
the OneAthens Foundation and the Athens Chamber of Commerce will engage a large portion of the Athens community. Employees receiving the added benefit will also likely serve as proponents, hopefully aiding in the longevity of the program. Lastly, getting the issue of child care onto the policy agenda might serve as a battle in its own right. Salience often serves as an obstacle for many policy areas. Drawing attention to the problem might prove difficult if those affected, along with the media, are not forcing the issue to the front of public policy debates in Athens. This issue can easily be surmounted with the aid of the OneAthens Foundation and local child care advocates. Broader Implementation Although the scope of this policy is local, other cities throughout the southern region can look to implement similar programs. Most notably, the city of Savannah is an ideal candidate. Also located in Georgia, Savannah can utilize the tax credit for child care investments utilized by the Athens program. Demographically, Savannah roughly has the same population size as Athens and also has a recognized poverty reduction movement known as “Step Up Savannah.”36 Preexisting partnerships between “Step Up Savannah,” a variety of local businesses, schools, and the Chatham County Government constitute the infrastructure needed, facilitating the creation of a similar subsidy program.37 Drawing upon the model set forth here, Savannah easily could implement government supported, employer-based subsidies. Additionally other regional centers such as Columbia, SC, and Charleston, SC, are demographically similar to both Athens in terms of total population and racial make-up.38 Poverty rates in each of these cities are also above the state average as reported by the U.S. census bureau.39 South Carolina, similarly to Georgia, provides a 50% tax credit with a 3,000 dollar cap per employee to businesses on investments made directly to child care providers.40 While the tax credit provided by South Carolina is not as robust as the credit provided by Georgia, it still presents employers with an incentive to provided child care benefits. With additional local funding, both Charleston and Columbia could find ways to encourage family friendly business practices within their communities. Conclusion High costs of child care often serve as a structural barrier limiting parents’ work options. Parents struggling to balance work and family typically put families first, leaving employers shortchanged. Efforts to cut child care costs and increase access to quality programs would reduce the challenges Athens-area working parents, especially those in lower-income households, face when providing adequate care for their children. Therefore, by implementing an employer-based subsidy program, Athens-Clarke County can reduce the strain of heightened child care costs. The program outlined here utilizes a 75 percent tax credit from
the state of Georgia for investments businesses make on child care benefits, along with additional funding to businesses from the county. From this funding, employees will receive up to 75 percent reimbursement from their employer for child care costs paid directly to an accredited child care facility. Families receive subsides calculated on the basis of total family income. Additionally, a government logistical committee, housed within the office of management and budget, will handle the oversight, development, and funding of the program. Over a period of five years, ACC will remove supplementary funding as companies start to realize benefits such as reduced turnover and lower training costs. Ultimately, a public-private partnership for providing child care would ensure that children and parents had accessible child care while the employers contributed to a more effective and family-sensitive workplace.
A profile of Athens-Clarke county facts about poverty and other socio-economic data In Athens-Clarke county. Partners for a Prosperous Athens (2006.). Retrieved November 15,2008, from http://www.prosperousathens.org/poverty/index. html#prate 2. Sherry Turner. Department of Human Resources. burton+BURTON. (2008). (Ed.), Personal Communication 3. A profile of Athens-Clarke county facts about poverty and other socio-economic data In Athens-Clarke county. Partners for a Prosperous Athens (2006.). Retrieved November 15,2008, from http://www.prosperousathens.org/poverty/index. html#prate 4. Gish, M. (2008). Head start: Background and issues. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. 5. President submits budget request with 200,000 fewer children receiving child care assistance – other important programs cut or frozen. National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2008). Retrieved October 13, 2008, from http://www. naeyc.org/policy/federal/02_05_08.asp 6. Dependent care: A profile for Athens-Clarke County (2006). University of Georgia: The Fanning Institute. 7. Gowen, Jean. Child care statistics in Athens-Clarke County(2008). Athens, GA: Community Connections: Child Care Resources and Referral of Northeast Georgia. 8. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Accreditation. (2009). http://www.naeyc.org/accreditation. Bright from the Start. Accreditation support. (2009). http://decal.ga.gov/ChildCareServices/OpportunitiesforAssistanceinSeekingNationalAccreditation.aspx 9. Dependent care: A profile for Athens-Clarke County (2006). University of Georgia: The Fanning Institute. 10. Subsidized Child care. Georgia Department of Human Resources: Division of Family and Children Services (2008). Retrieved October 17, 2008, from http://dfcs.dhr. georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-DFCS/menuitem.5d32235bb09bde9a50c8798dd030 1.
36a0/?vgnextoid=16fa2b48d9a4ff00VgnVCM100000bf01010aRCRD 11. Elizabeth Windecker-Nelson, Shelley M. MacDermid. (1998). Child care: It’s good business. The Indiana tool-kit for employers and community planners. Indianapolis, IN: Purdue’s Center for Family Publication. 12. Subsidized Child care. U.S. Department of Human Resources (2008). Retrieved October 17, 2008, from http://dfcs.dhr.georgia.gov/portal/site/DHR-DFCS/menuitem .5d32235bb09bde9a50c8798dd03036a0/?vgnextoid=16fa2b48d9a4ff00VgnVCM1 00000bf01010aRCRD 13. Guide for implementing child care legislation: Subsidy models. Washington, DC: U.S. Office of Personnel Management. 14. Issues in labor statistics: Employer-sponsored childcare benefits(1998). Bureau of Labor Statistics. 15. O.C.G.A. § 48-7-40.6, (2008). 16. Tax incentives for employers to provide child care. Vienna, VA: National Child Care Information Center. O.C.G.A. § 48-7-40.6, (2008). 17. Employer options for child care: Effective strategies for recruitment and retention (2001). University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University 18. Gowen, Jean. Child care statistics in Athens-Clarke County(2008). Athens, GA: Community Connections: Child Care Resources and Referral of Northeast Georgia. 19. Gowen, Jean. Child care statistics in Athens-Clarke County (2008). Athens, GA: Community Connections: Child Care Resources and Referral of Northeast Georgia. 20. Elizabeth Windecker-Nelson, Shelley M. MacDermid. (1998). Child care: It’s good business. The Indiana tool-kit for employers and community planners. Indianapolis, IN: Purdue’s Center for Family Publication. 21. Elizabeth Windecker-Nelson, Shelley M. MacDermid. (1998). Child care: It’s good business. The Indiana tool-kit for employers and community planners. Indianapolis, IN: Purdue’s Center for Family Publication. 22. Investing in child care: Challenges facing working parents and the private sector response (1993). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Treasury. 23. Investing in child care: Challenges facing working parents and the private sector response (1993). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Treasury. 24. Investing in child care: Challenges facing working parents and the private sector response (1993). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Treasury. 25. Johnson, A. A. (1995). The business case for work-family programs. Journal of Accountancy, 180(2), 53-58. 26. Windecker-Nelson, Shelley M. MacDermid. (1998). Child care: It’s good business. The Indiana tool-kit for employers and community planners. Indianapolis, IN: Purdue’s Center for Family Publication. 27. Galinsky, Ellen. (2006). The economic benefits of high-quality early childhood programs: What makes the difference?. Washington, DC: The Committee for Economic Development. 28. Galinsky, Ellen. (2006). The economic benefits of high-quality early childhood programs: What makes the difference?. Washington, DC: The Committee for Economic Development. 29. Galinsky, Ellen. (2006). The economic benefits of high-quality early childhood programs: What makes the difference?. Washington, DC: The Committee for Economic 79
Development. 30. Sherry Turner. Department of Human Resources. burton+BURTON. (2008). (Ed.), Personal Communication. 31. Sherry Turner. Department of Human Resources. burton+BURTON. (2008). (Ed.), Personal Communication. 32. Sherry Turner. Department of Human Resources. burton+BURTON. (2008). (Ed.), Personal Communication. 33. O.C.G.A. § 48-7-40.6, (2008). 34. Gowen, Jean. Child care statistics in Athens-Clarke County(2008). Athens, GA: Community Connections: Child Care Resources and Referral of Northeast Georgia. 35. Athens-Clarke County. Athens By the Numbers. (2008). http://athensclarkecounty. com/documents/pdf/pio/by_the_numbers.pdf 36. United States Census data. Quick Facts for Savannah, GA. 2006. http://quickfacts. census.gov/qfd/states/13/1369000.html 37. Step up Savannah (2009). http://stepupsavannah.org/about-step-savannah/collaborative-partners 38. United States Census Data. Quick Facts for Charleston, S.C. (2006). http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/45/4513330.htm United States Census Data. Quick Facts for Columbia, S.C. (2006). http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/47/4714000. html 39. United States Census Data. Quick Facts for Charleston, S.C. (2006). http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/45/4513330.htm 40. United States Census Data. Quick Facts for Columbia, S.C. (2006). http://quickfacts. census.gov/qfd/states/47/4714000.html O.C.S.C. §12-6-3440. (2009). http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t12c006.htm.
Building a Faculative Bioreactor
Malin Dartnell and Shanell Davis University of Georgia
Executive Summary • Currently, the Athens-Clarke County (ACC) landfill does not emit enough landfill gas for the US Environmental Protection Agency to require that it be captured, but within the next decade, emissions will be too high to allow it to be released freely into the atmosphere. • Upon approval of the Athens-Clarke County Landfill expansion, several new cells will be constructed on the newly purchased 79-acres immediately north of the existing 24-acre cell. • We recommend that these new cells be utilized as a facultative bioreactor. • A facultative bioreactor controls the production of organic ammonia (NH3) due to anaerobic respiration. This process yields methane (CH4), due to anaerobic respiration, and nitrogen gas (N2), due to denitrification. • Ideally, as the waste breaks down and is neutralized, it will create room for more waste to be cycled through, essentially converting the landfill from a waste disposal facility to a waste treatment facility. • The decomposition process will produce methane-rich landfill gas, which will be comprised of approximately 50% methane. This gas will be captured and piped to the University of Georgia, where it can be used in a gas powered boiler that can replace the coal-fired boiler currently being used for the majority of the University’s heating and energy needs. As the global population booms, requiring more space and creating more waste than ever before, it has become evident that the waste disposal methods used in the past are becoming outdated and even impossible to implement in regions of extremely high-density populations. Using a variety of methods from incineration to recycling, people are beginning to turn to alternative methods of waste disposal. The Athens-Clarke County landfill is nearing full capacity. Within the next ten years, it will be necessary to dispose of the county’s waste elsewhere. It has become obvious that traditional dry-tomb landfilling, as ACC has done in the past, is no longer a reasonable option. After researching a variety of alternative methods, it became clear that the most viable and environmentally friendly option would be a facultative bioreactor, which would also provide a new source of energy for the University of Georgia as the perfect alternative to the
outdated coal-fired boiler that the University of Georgia currently uses. This paper begins with a brief introduction to methane, the primary gas that is released when waste is broken down in facultative bioreactor. It goes on to describe our proposal in detail, beginning with a description of the bioreactor itself and continuing by detailing the process required to implement the proposal. Finally, the paper discusses the impact that it would have, were the proposal to be acted upon, discussing any stakeholders and weighing the benefits against the challenges that will arise. Methane and Its Incarnations Methane (CH4), landfill gas (LFG), and natural gas are three distinct entities. Methane gas (CH4) is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon that is the byproduct of the decomposition of organic materials, but it is also, along with carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas (GHG) that is released into the atmosphere by natural and anthropogenic means.1,2 Landfill gas is between 40 and 60 percent methane. The other 60 to 40 percent is mostly carbon dioxide (CO2) along with “non-methane organic compounds” (NMOC), such as nitrogen, oxygen, water vapors, sulfur, and inorganic contaminants like mercury. The composition of LFG will vary based on what is put into the landfill. Natural gas is 80-99% methane with traces of other hydrocarbons like butane (CH3), propane (CH2), and ethane (CH).3 The distinction between these three gases is important when discussing a landfill gas to energy system because of their different components. It has also been observed that methane gas is 20 times more detrimental to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide because it has an increased capability to trap heat in the atmosphere.4 According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), landfills are one of the largest sources of anthropogenic methane emission in the US, accounting for a total of 34% of US methane emission into the earth’s atmosphere, which in 2007 was recorded as 6,327 Gg.5 This figure is especially staggering when compared to the next two anthropogenic sources, natural gas system emissions and coal mining emissions, which in 2007 were 4,985 and 2,744 Gg respectively.6 The US EPA requires any landfill that releases more than 50 Megagrams of landfill gas per year to capture the gas. As of yet, the ACC landfill has not reached the 50 Mg limit, but as ACC continues to grow, the community will create more waste, which will lead to greater emissions. Within the next decade, ACC LFG emissions will be too high to allow it to be released freely into the atmosphere.7,8 The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) defines a bioreactor as “any permitted Subtitle D landfill or landfill cell where liquid or air is injected in a controlled fashion into the waste mass in order to accelerate or enhance biostabilization of the waste”.9,10 The use of a bioreactor to degrade organic
waste is a departure from the traditional idea of a landfill. Traditionally, once a section of a landfill is full, it is capped to seal out as much moisture as possible. This process essentially creates a “dry tomb” for trash to slowly degrade over the span of 30 to 50 years.11 In contrast, moisture is the key ingredient in a bioreactor. By creating an environment of optimal moisture (35-65 percent according to the EPA), naturally occurring microbes can rapidly decrease the decomposition and stabilization period of organic waste from decades to years and produces a higher volume of methane gas that can be captured.12,13 Four types of bioreactor processes, aerobic, anaerobic, hybrid, and facultative, can be used, each requiring slightly different conditions and yielding slightly different results (reference Table 1).14 In a traditional landfill, LFG emissions peak, then decrease over time, making it less economical than capturing emissions from a bioreactor.15 Anaerobic, hybrid, and facultative bioreactors consistently produce CH4 at about twice the rate of traditional landfills, allowing for CH4 recovery over the lifespan of the landfill so long as the input remains constant.16,17 This CH4 can be sequestered and sold to a local industry, the University of Georgia, or used on-site to eliminate energy costs. Utility companies are required by the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) to buy power generated at a landfill if the power is sold at fair market value.18 We propose selling the methane to the University of Georgia, Bioreactors require moisture, therefore the leachate produced, augmented by storm water, wastewaters, or wastewater treatment plant sludge, is needed for respiration to occur.19 By using these types of liquids, MSW treatment plants will significantly reduce, if not eliminate, leachate disposal and treatment fees.20,21 With Athens-Clarke County’s traditional “dry-tomb” landfill, there are a total of three cells able to accept waste. The current cell accepting waste will be full in two years, and the two other cells not yet constructed- have a combined lifespan of four years. Because it will take at least a year to construct a cell, by next year a decision must be reached that will determine whether to construct the other two cells or to develop the 64-acre plot.22 This proposal recommends that Athens-Clarke County Municipal Solid Waste Department install a facultative bioreactor on this 64-acre plot. A Plan for the Future Our policy recommends that Athens-Clarke County install a facultative bioreactor on the landfill expansion site to increase the longevity and sustainability of waste disposal in this county. Once the ACC Landfill expansion is approved, several new cells will be constructed on the newly purchased 79-acres immediately north of the existing 24-acre cell. A Municipal Solid Waste Certified liner will line the bioreactor.23 The rest of the bioreactor will be comprised of a series of twenty-foot layers of waste covered by a perforated pipe inside of a layer
Table 1: Four Types of Bioreactor Systems
• Vertical and/or horizontal • Generates CO2, not CH4. wells remove leachate from • Could potentially eliminate • • •
the bottom layer and inject air into the landfill. Leachate is sent to a liquid storage tank before it is recirculated back into the landfill in a controlled manner. Naturally occurring microbes carry out aerobic respiration. Process consumes 02 and produces CO2 , to rapidly decompose organic waste products. wells remove and reciculate leachate while capturing and collecting CH4 gas. Occurs in the absence of O2.
the emission of CH4 into the atmosphere. Cannot be used to generate an alternative energy source.
• Vertical and/or horizontal • Generates CH4 at twice the • Leads to more reliable higher • Production of CH4 decreas•
peak volumes of CH4. es as organic waste decomposes fully. With consistent input the peak will flatten to a stable level of CH4 production. bic respiration, and N2, due to denitrification. rate of a normal landfill.
• Controls the production of • Yields CH4, due to anaero•
the organic ammonia (NH3) due to anaerobic respiration. Leachate is treated to convert NH3 into nitrate (NO3) and is recirculated back into the landfill where faculative bacteria and other microbes use NO3, instead of O2, for respiration and produce nitrogen gas (N2).
Source: WM-Waste Management, “Waste treatment Landfill Brochure,” Waste Management, http://www.wm.com/wm/environmental/bioreactor.asp (accessed 12 December 2008).
of gravel, glass, or other filtering material. It will be installed layer by layer as waste is added. Ideally, as the waste breaks down and is neutralized, it will create room for more waste to be cycled through, essentially converting the landfill from a “waste disposal facility to a waste treatment facility.”24 The decomposition process will produce methane-rich landfill gas, which will be comprised of up to approximately 50% methane.25 This gas will be captured, treated on-site, and piped nearly eight miles to the University of Georgia, where it will be used in a gas powered boiler that will replace the coal-fired boiler currently being used for the majority of the University’s heating and energy needs.26 Bringing about Change With the support and sponsorship of Commissioner Kelly Girtz, this proposal will be brought before the Waste Reduction Committee. The Waste Reduction Committee is a committee commissioned by the mayor in February of 2009 to evaluate the best avenues to take concerning Athens-Clarke County’s waste disposal. The committee is headed by Commissioner Kelly Girtz and Commissioner Doug Lowry and consists of a representative from Athens-area schools, industry, community, private haulers, and the University of Georgia.27 If accepted by the Waste Reduction Committee as a feasible course of action , they will make a formal recommendation to the full body Mayor and Commission. At the same time, the University-County Relations Committee, the communication body between the University of Georgia and ACC, will also deliberate the rationale of this proposal and make their formal recommendations to their respective full bodies. Finally, should all parties agree, they would draft a formal agreement. The first question that will need to be answered is who will pay for the construction of the bioreactor, pipeline, and new gas boiler. We recommend that UGA provide the funds to replace the current coal-burning boiler with a gaspowered boiler, that ACC, using various avenues, procure the funding for the construction of the bioreactor, and that the cost of the pipeline be divided between UGA and ACC, although we do not recommend a specific percentage breakdown. Sources of funding open to ACC can be found on the local, state, and federal levels as well as through private industry. According to Jim Corley, the Solid Waste Director, ACC-SWD has already been receiving calls from private companies willing to finance the development of the landfill gas from the new cell in return for the carbon credits.28 Other options that would allow ACC to keep the carbon credits include submitting this proposal as a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) project in 2010, and appropriating fund from
the Solid Waste Department.29 Appropriating funds from SWD would potentially result in increased tipping fees in the short term. Financial aid could be requested from the state’s general fund, but there is a strong likelihood that there will not be funds available through the state, due to the current recession. Potential federal sources of funding are available through the EPA and President Obama’s new economic stimulus package, under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant.30,31 The next step is to determine who will construct the pipeline and bioreactor. The Mayor and Commission will place the job out to bid. We recommend using a local construction firm, but according to “local and state code, there is not an allowance for local construction firm preference”.32 Once the bid is returned and accepted by the Mayor and Commission, the projected cost can be determined and construction can begin. As previously mentioned, ACC’s current landfill will reach capacity in a few short years, and because of this, $750,000 was spent to acquire 79 acres of land that will be tied into the current 24 acre cell, and $250,000 was spent to complete a site suitability report.33 Pending approval from the Mayor Commission and EPD, the location of the bioreactor has already been determined. In order to transport the gas from the landfill to the UGA Physical Plant, approximately 8 miles of pipeline that complies with EPA regulations will have to be constructed.34 UGA’s Office of Energy Services, ACC-SWD, and the construction firm will have to determine where the pipeline will run, in an effort to have the least impact on the environment and the citizens of the county. Good Things Come to Those Who Act The implementation of a bioreactor in Athens-Clarke County (ACC) will have many direct effects, both quantitative and qualitative, on the residents of the county and institutions within the county, such as the University of Georgia. While much of the cost of the program will be covered by federal grants and the revenues collected from energy sales, there may be some initial costs that ACC Solid Waste Division will have to supplement. In addition, those that live in the area immediately surrounding the landfill will be able to see the facility, which could potentially lower property values in the area. On the contrary, when the landfill gas is sold, ACC waste ratepayers will benefit financially as sale of the gas will prevent tipping fees from rising. Alternatively, the revenue could finance other waste-reduction efforts.35 The operational and long-term landfill maintenance costs will be reduced, eventually decreasing the cost of curbside pick-up. The life of the landfill will be extended, and the new program will create jobs that will boost the local economy. By tapping the gas
that will otherwise be released into the atmosphere, the program will reduce odor emissions from the landfill, and improve air quality in the surrounding area. In addition, ACC residents will reap a myriad of less tangible benefits from the program. The implementation of a comprehensive sustainable waste management system, especially involving a technology as forward-thinking as a bioreactor, will elicit countless press coverage across the region, furthering the progressive reputation of the county and the University of Georgia. As the county gains respect from outside sources, ACC citizens will, in turn, gain a reinforced sense of pride. Moreover, the ACC community will benefit from the knowledge that they are helping to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. The installation of a facultative bioreactor can accomplish two goals that will result in a significant decrease in the cost of managing and maintaining a landfill. The first and most relevant concern for ACC that a facultative bioreactor will solve is the question of future expansions. One of the main purposes of a bioreactor is to extend the life of the landfill by increasing its vertical space by 15-30% once the waste is degraded and stabilized.36 This process usually takes between 5 and 10 years as opposed to the 30 to 50 years required for a traditional dry tomb landfill.37,38 This will lead to an increase in revenue over the long term and will reduce, if not eliminate, the need to horizontally expand. Secondly, it will decrease air and groundwater pollution. By enhancing the natural process of decomposition, a facultative bioreactor will not only allow ACC MSWD to harness CH4 emission, but it could also, potentially, decompose volatile organic compounds (VOC), non-methane organic compounds (NMOC), and inorganic compounds, such as dioxins and furans, found in MSW facilities.39,40 Groundwater pollution will decrease because the leachate will no longer be stagnated in the bottom layers closest to the groundwater table. The leachate will be treated on site and recirculated continuously throughout the landfill to achieve optimal moisture.41 The University of Georgia will also see significant effects. The new program will open up incredible research opportunities for students and faculty. The University could work in conjunction with two universities currently conducting research on bioreactors, the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida, to help create standardized designs, operation procedures and guidelines for bioreactors. The gas collected from the facility could eliminate the University’s need for the coal-fired boiler that it currently uses for its heat and energy needs.42 The simple act of replacing the coal-fired boiler will yield a myriad of benefits for the University and the Athens community. In addition to emitting over 500 tons of sulfur dioxide and ten tons of hydrogen chloride per year, the boiler is a major contributor to the 110 pounds of particulate matter that the University emits per year, according to the Athens Banner Herald and the University Office of Energy Services.43 Replacing the coal-fired boiler with
a gas-powered boiler will eliminate these emissions. Additionally, disposing of the ashes from the 16,000 tons of coal that the University burns each year has presented a huge problem, as the two closest landfills to the University (the Athens-Clarke County landfill and the Barrow County landfill)44 refuse to take the waste. This causes incredible transportation costs which will also be eliminated by the use of gas collected from the proposed bioreactor. Most importantly, the program will result in approximately a 60-80% reduction of methane emissions from the landfill. This figure, individually, does not seem as though it would have an extreme effect on the atmosphere. It would, however, join the ranks of other bioreactors across the country, which does the work of approximately 24 million acres of pine or fir forests or the removal of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from more than 19 million passenger vehicles.45 The landfill gas as an energy source will, again, offset the use of nonrenewable energy sources that will continue to benefit the global community. Obstacles to Overcome Potential challenges that may need to be confronted throughout this process include, but are not limited to: the site purchased not being approved, a LFGE facility being dismissed as unfeasible, the choice of a bioreactor and the type recommended being called into question, and disputes over appropriate funding. We will address each of these in turn. According to Jim Corley, if the land purchased for construction of new cells is not approved, ACC Landfill will close in approximately 6 years and the county will have to ship its waste to another landfill.46 This will lead to increased fees across the board due to the cost of transporting and dumping the waste in another county’s landfill. We do not recommend this course of action because it will make ACC subject to the requirements of another county that does not have to take our community’s needs into consideration. The development of the 79 acres purchased in July of 2008 must be approved to avoid this outcome. Should the feasibility of a landfill gas to energy (LFGE) project be dismissed, the necessity of one will not be ignored for long. EPD mandates that any landfill emitting over 50 Mg/year of LFG be capped and flared or sold to an industry.47 The new site would eventually reach that point and prolonging the installation of a LFGE facility would be economically and fiscally irresponsible. By initiating this project before the landfill reaches the maximum mandated level of emissions, ACC can apply for carbon credits that can be traded on the Chicago Climate Exchange. Delaying constructions of a LFGE facility could potentially deprive ACC of a source of revenue and/or the carbon credit incentives that private industries are seeking in exchange for funding the construction of a LFGE facility.
This proposal recommends a bioreactor, specifically a facultative bioreactor, rather than the other methods of converting waste to energy or landfill gas to energy. Our research determines that a bioreactor solves the problems both of emissions and expansions at a more economically feasible cost than to the other options, which are either extremely costly or solve only the problem of emissions. A facultative bioreactor was recommended instead of an aerobic type because we are seeking sustainable methods of waste management that will bring in revenue to support the maintenance and management of the facility. An aerobic bioreactor will not produce a marketable product. Though an aerobic bioreactor would be more environmentally friendly because the end product is oxygen and soil, without a method to pay for the facility in the long term, the feasibility of this project could be diminished (reference Table 1).48 The most obvious challenge to this project will be providing funding while keeping the cost to the community down. As mentioned earlier, there are various avenues available for funding this project, but we, as a community, must come to understand that there is a monetary cost for every ounce of waste we produce and dispose. All attempts will be made to lessen the financial impact to the citizens and industries of Athens-Clarke County, but an increase in certain fees may follow whether or not this proposal is accepted. In the long run, however, the future costs of doing the same old thing will greatly outweigh the shortterm costs of establishing a bioreactor. Traditional “dry-tomb” landfills are no longer a feasible long-term option for waste management and for most counties the cost of shipping their waste is not economical. These problems are leading to the shift in how we perceive waste management and the creation of innovative technology. Bioreactors are one such technology that can effectively shift waste disposal to waste management in Athens-Clarke County, GA, as well as, solve an energy problem for the University of Georgia. Within the next five years, both ACC’s waste issues and UGA’s energy problems will reach their pinnacle and a decision will have to be against a backdrop of more stringent environmental regulations. By addressing these issues today, through an environmentally sustainable lens, they will reap the benefits, both economically and socially, of voluntarily incorporating innovative and sustainable technologies into the county.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Methane,” US EPA, http://www. epa.gov/methane/ (accessed 11 December 2008) EnergyJustice.Net, “Landfill Gas Fact Sheet”, Energy Justice Network, http://www. energyjustice.net/lfg/factsheet-lfg.pdf (accessed 11 December 2008) Ibid. 1 Ibid. 1 Ibid. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “2009 Draft U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report,” US EPA, http://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html (accessed 13 March 2009) United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Fact Sheet: Final Air Regulations for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills,” US EPA, http://epa.gov/ttn/atw/landfill/ mswfact.pdf (accessed 11 December 2008) Corley, Jim. Interviewed by Malin Dartnell and Shanell Davis. Athens, Georgia, 17 February 2009. Bioreactor.org, “Information,” Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, http://www.bioreactor.org/info.htm (accessed 13 November 2008) Solid Waste Association of North America, “Certification: Bioreactor Landfill,” SWANA, http://swana.org/Education/Educate/Certification/BioreactorLandfill/ tabid/96/Default.aspx (accessed 13 November 2008) Bioreactor.org, “Florida Bioreactor Landfill Demonstration Project-Executive Summary,” Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, http://www. bioreactor.org/publications.htm (accessed 13 November 2008) 9 Ibid. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Wastes-Non-Hazardous Municipal Solid Waste: Bioreactors,” US EPA, http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/ landfill/bioreactors.htm (accessed 13 December 2008) WM-Waste Management, “Waste treatment Landfill Brochure,” Waste Management, http://www.wm.com/wm/environmental/bioreactor.asp (accessed 12 December 2008) 2 Ibid. 9 Ibid. 11 Ibid. Green Power Market Development Group, World Resource Institute, http://www. thegreenpowergroup.org/us.cfm (accessed 5 January 2009) 11 Ibid. 11 Ibid. 14 Ibid. 8 Ibid. Bioreactor.org, “Bioreactor.org Home”, Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, http://www.bioreactor.org/video/BioreactorHIGH_8-17-08a. mov (accessed 12 December 2008) 28 Ibid 2 Ibid UGA Office of Energy Services, “Go Green at UGA,” UGA Physical Plant Division, http://www.uga.edu/energy/news/article_35.html, (accessed 1 February 2009) Girtz, Kelly. Interviewed by Malin Dartnell and Shanell Davis. Athens, Georgia, 20
February 2009. 28. 8 Ibid. 29. ACC Online, “SPLOST - Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax,” Athens-Clarke County Georgia, http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/splost/index.htm (accessed 1 February 2009) 30. West, Larry, “U.S. Economic Stimulus Package Includes Billions for Energy and the Environment,” About.com, http://environment.about.com/od/ environmentallawpolicy/a/econ_stimulus.htm (accessed 20 March 2009) 31. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program,” United States Department of Energy, http://www.eecbg.energy.gov/#le1 (accessed 30 March 2009) 32. Girtz, Kelly. Follow-up Interview by Malin Dartnell and Shanell Davis. Athens, Georgia, 23 March 2009. 33. 8 Ibid. 34. 8 Ibid. 35. 33 Ibid. 36. 9 Ibid. 37. 11 Ibid. 38. Green Power Market Development, “Corporate Case Studies: Interface,” World Resource Institute, http://www.thegreenpowergroup.org/wmv/landfillgas.wmv (accessed 19 November 2008) 39. Ewall, Mike, “Primer on Landfill Gas as ‘Green’ Energy,” Energy Justice Network (2000), http://www.energyjustice.net/lfg/ (accessed 11 December 2008) 40. 39 Ibid. 41. 11 Ibid. 42. 31 Ibid 43. 31 Ibid 44. 8 Ibid 45. United States Environmental Protection Agency, “An Overview of Landfill Gas Energy in the United States”, US EPA, http://www.epa.gov/landfill/docs/overview.pdf (accessed 12 January 2009) 46. 8 Ibid. 47. 7 Ibid. 48. 14 Ibid.
Durham Enrichment Project
Jeff Gruber University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The city of Durham, an integral corner of the renowned Research Triangle in North Carolina, has experienced tremendous growth during the past fifty years. The attraction of the Research Triangle, America’s largest science park, and the nationwide housing boom of the 2000’s has led to unprecedented, and at times, imprudent urban planning decisions. Hasty sprawl and development has led to both a decay of older communities along with a polarization of income for the city of Durham. In order for older areas of Durham to regain their stature, and in order for the citizens of those neighborhoods to enjoy their district, steps should be taken to invest in communities with significant local problems, such as crime rate. What most of these communities have in common, and indeed older communities throughout the United States, is the presence of vacant lots. The Roosevelt Institute at UNC Chapel Hill, a student-run policy institution, recently decided to apply the Think Impact message to a local level. The Think Impact message combines the involvement of community service in conjunction with the durability of policy implementation. This change in perspective allows students to become actively involved in solving problems that they interact with on a daily level. Our policy centers of Environmental and Energy Policy, along with Civil Rights and Social Justice Policy, seek to redevelop vacant lots already present in low-income communities into community gardens. These policy centers will implement a bottom-up process of utilizing citizen’s input for design and using a local workforce to develop these gardens. After these lots are created, the positive benefits of community gardens already documented in studies will emerge, creating advantages for denizens of older neighborhoods and for the populace in the city of Durham. The Bane of Vacant Land on the Urban Landscape Vacant lots are an intriguing aspect of urban development, with little about the term “vacant land” being written or little about vacant land in cities being researched. Michael Pagano and Ann Bowman of the Brookings Institution completed a survey in 2000 that sought to remedy this by surveying the acreage of vacant land in cities of 100,000 inhabitants or more, while also defining a term for vacant land in order to find some relation concerning vacant lots in city limits. The results of Pagano’s and Bowman’s survey of vacant land in cities with 100,000 or more inhabitants, concluded that vacant land accounted for, on average, 15.4 percent of land within American cities. Vacant land made up an
average of 19.3 percent of land for cities in the Southeast Region of the United States, while only accounting for 15.1 percent of land within the city of Durham. Pagano and Bowman sought to understand some reasoning behind the existence of vacant land within cities. Cities with high percentages of vacant land were often in areas of recent booming growth. The South, with its average percentage of vacant land in city areas being 19.3 percent, and the West, having an average of 14.8 percent of city development being vacant land, have had the largest proportion of development in the nation since World War Two. Alternatively, areas that have had stagnant development over several decades display lower percentages of vacant land in cities, with the Midwest’s average percentage of vacant land totaling 12.2 percent, and the Northeast’s average percentage of vacant land equaling 9.6 percent. Pagano and Bowman both show that areas with growing city lines tend to have higher amounts of vacant property in the city limits, with the city of Durham being no exception. Being close to the national average of vacant land percentage in city limits allows Durham to establish a precedent for cities interested in adopting similar policies towards developing unused land. Community Gardens as a Solution Vacant land stems from many sources and serves no positive benefit to the city or community when left undeveloped. However, vacant land can act as a means for community growth when developed into community gardens. In a study by Donna Armstrong concerning community gardens in New York State 51 percent of respondents reported that their community garden “improved attitudes of residents about the neighborhood” (Armstrong 2000). Residents also reported experiencing fresher and tastier food, positive mental health benefits, and cooperation with other residents by having a community garden. The survey noted that a community garden acts as a focal point to hold other local gatherings for less wealthy neighborhood. As for managing the gardens, an astounding 87 percent of reporting garden sites organized and cooperated with fellow residents to hold activities and maintain their garden (Armstrong 2000). However, what was most striking is the way in which a community garden helped improve community relationships for neighbors. Local garden coordinators reported programs led by citizens ranging from babysitting, exercising, forming a neighborhood association, and forming a neighborhood watch. Most importantly, gardens developed in poorer communities made residents “four times as likely” to address area local problems such as “litter” or “lack of community cohesion” (Armstrong 2000). This combination of healthier eating, greater community cohesion, and motivation by residents to address problems in the neighborhood provides an astounding testimony for developing community gardens within neglected quarters of Durham.
Current Problems in Durham Durham ranks “7th–worst on income inequality [with] top earners mak[ing] nearly seven times that of the lowest earners”, according to the Brookings Institution study of metropolitan areas (Muro et al. 2008). The problem of inequality stems from a long history of tremendous amounts of wealth from nearby universities and science centers, however that wealth remains concentrated in certain areas. Furthermore, According to Table 1, the rates for crimes within Durham, excluding murder, exceed the national average in crimes, particularly robberies, burglaries and larceny (Durham Crime Statistics and Crime Data 2006). Table 1. Durham Crime Statistics
2006 Total Violent Crime Murder Rape Robbery Aggravated Assault Property Crime Burglary Larceny Vehicle Theft Arson 1,957 13 98 977 896 11,866 3,098 7,617 1,151 48 Durham’s Avg. per 100,000 people 936.6 6.2 46.9 467.6 415.9 5,679.1 1,482.7 3,645.5 550.9 23 National Avg. per 100,000 people 553.5 7 33.1 205.8 336.5 3,906.1 813.2 2,601.7 501.5 NA
The crime and inequality created in Durham contributes to a lower standard of living within the community, which hinders community development for lowincome neighborhoods. A decreasing standard of living for the city yields lower housing prices and a lower perspective of one’s own community (Brand and Price 2000). This lower-valued community then attracts greater amounts of crime further decreasing the overall value and standard of living of an area. When aggregated, these vacant lots can bring down the overall appeal of the city, obstructing future investments due to the city’s high crime rate and perceived instability. Moreover, the city loses an opportunity to utilize these vacant lands as a gain for community development. When lots remain undeveloped, the city itself is underdeveloped, thus preventing it from reaching its potential as a respected and developed locale within the nation. It therefore behooves city officials to make the lots a beneficial asset for citizens and the city rather than a burden on these communities.
Durham is failing to use its empty lots in the city as an effective asset for communal usage. Durham needs to develop an effective solution for low-income and at-risk communities to be sustainable for the future and livable for their residents. The solution of developing vacant land into community gardens creates a more positive perspective of overlooked neighborhoods and allows for a neighborhood congregating point for neighborhood activities and regionally harvested food Analysis of the Community Garden Solution The community gardens act as an ideal solution for creating sustainable and livable communities for at-risk and low-income areas. This will bring communally cultivated pride and nourishment for areas that have high levels of crime or are lacking community unity. Community Gardens in the city of Durham can help meet the untapped communal spirit that exists in these at-risk neighborhoods. Developing unoccupied lots in the area is crucial since a correlation between vacant lots and crime exists. A study by the University of Washington in Tacoma found a strong positive relationship between violent crime and the amount of vacant land within the city area of Tacoma, a city roughly the same size as Durham (Bradshaw and Nelson 2007). While it cannot be immediately concluded that the city of Durham has this same correlation, the Tacoma study can be used as an example to show how a city suffers when lots are left undeveloped. Additionally, it cannot be concluded that developing vacant land will be the only necessary step to mitigate crime rates in a certain area. Crime stems from various sources. This policy seeks to develop these lots in order to help instill a greater sense of pride in declining neighborhoods, which will in turn lower crime rates. The studies previously mentioned show that there is a negative effect by leaving land undeveloped and when that land is developed, citizens report significant benefits. It is therefore imperative for the city of Durham to develop unused lots into actively used community gardens in order to enhance citizens experience to Durham. Alternatively, if a top-down approach were taken, a stronger police force would be needed in order to control crime in certain areas, which will end up costing citizens more annually. Moreover, additional police units could not offer the benefits that an individual experiences while communally gardening, as noted in Armstrong’s research on community gardening. The resulting savings from developing lots, rather than using more police, could be passed on to the community as a greater investment in government-funded fields, further benefitting the community as well as the city. Community gardens would establish a communal space for local Durhamites to enjoy. These gardens would be developed to fit citizens’ needs by creating
a partnership with local leaders and officials to familiarize designers with the needs of at-risk communities. Interacting with the neighborhoods and actively integrating them in the implementation process is pivotal to the success of this project, since the citizens will use these lots on a regular basis. Moreover, it is imperative that designers and developers understand the demographics of the community, along with their wants and needs for this project. If needed, additional resources available through city-held information could be utilized, such as a crime-tracker, zoning references, and demographic statistics. A community in the city will be selected to act as a proof of concept to ensure that this particular approach will benefit individuals and the area as originally predicted. After this selection, the Roosevelt Institute at UNC Chapel Hill or similar organizations wanting to implement this design, will act as a designconsulting firm with the community leaders to help develop the best plan to fit unmet demands of a neighborhood. To ensure that the goals of equality, sustainability and design are met, liaisons will be hired for social justice, environmental, and urban planning to keep Durhamites’ best interests in mind. Additionally, a majority of residents or representatives for the residents must approve the design. For efficiency’s sake, it will be best to have a president to oversee the progress of the project. His or her responsibility would include being the face of the project and intermediating with residents, community leaders, and local officials. It will be advantageous for the community to establish the community garden together, in order for the residents to have a pivotal part in the project. However, if the labor force of the community is insufficient, then labor forces through the Roosevelt Institute at UNC Chapel Hill or similar institution will provide adequate labor, as part of its service to the community. Yet citizens of the neighborhood must do maintenance of the garden. As mentioned in Armstrong’s study, this usually unfolds on its own. However, to make sure that the garden does not fall into decay, community leaders will act as a consistent overseer for these lots, ensuring the lot’s future success. The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network wants to empower these communities with their previously undeveloped assets, which is why the integration of citizens in a planning and implementation stage is crucial, as was seen in the Armstrong study, resident’s perspective of their neighborhood, and willingness to tackle other local problems, arises when the residents take an active role in their garden (Armstrong 2000). Security is another important issue, since this program will be implemented in at-risk or crime-laden areas. The solution for further prevention of drug dealing of defacing public property exists in community policing. With an increased presence outdoors, citizens will be vital for crime deterrence and reporting information relevant to crimes committed. Therefore, in conjunction with a com97
munity lot, empowered residents will develop community programs to ensure safety. Armstrong has even suggested in her study that when gardens bring people out and involved in local projects, citizens start looking out for their fellow residents, creating an impromptu neighborhood watch program. After the initial vacant lots are organized and developed, statistics will be recorded on the community as well as the overall effectiveness of the vacant lots effect on the area. These statistics will be used as for reference to understand how effective these vacant lots have been, and can be used as a reference guide for similar projects in other cities. Conclusion Community gardens, as evident by other studies, can offer the following benefits for the denizens of Durham: • Strengthen Community through cohesion and programs. • Offer a place for children and adults to go outside. • Allow children and adults to learn about local flora and sustainability. • Allow the community to own an asset together. Most importantly, the long-term goals of this project can be projected in three ways: 1. Increase social justice in Durham by empowering at-risk communities. 2. Helping at-risk communities sustain themselves for future development. 3. Make prudent planning the standard for future enrichment within the city. A community garden can act as a catalyst for neighborhoods that have fallen victim to urban decay for further development. The community garden acts as a focal point for citizens to gather and to engage. This social structure can build the foundation for areas lacking such structure. Once these communities become strengthened, they will become less prone to violent crime and gun-related crime (Patterson 1991). Moreover, this area offers an alternative experience for residents. These gardens will allow people to enjoy a fresher tasting and healthier diet, a method of low-impact exercise, and an enjoyment of nature and open space that is often not found in urban areas or at-risk communities. Most importantly, this policy seeks to empower residents by being actively in-
volved in developing their community. Allowing the citizens to be actively involved in the implementation of this project will help sustain the pride in neighborhoods. Offering a third-place for Durhamites to go that is neither work nor home is important for an impoverished and crime-surrounded community. An overall positive perspective of their neighborhood, plus the multitude of benefits that arise from having a community garden will be developed for residents of this community. Most importantly, these communal gardens will give citizens newfound pride and wealth within their communities, from previously undeveloped assets already in possession. Works Cited
1. Armstrong, Donna. “A Survey of Community Gardens in Upstate New York: Implications for Health Promotion and Community Development.” Health and Place 6.1 (Dec 2000): p319-327. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=MImg&_ imagekey=B6VH5-41C2TK0-6-1&_cdi=6057&_user=130907&_orig=search&_ coverDate=12%2F01%2F2000&_sk=999939995&view=c&wchp=dGLbVlb-zSkWz&md 5=91b907a7484e08130669c7c96f15d64a&ie=/sdarticle.pdf Bradshaw, Ray, John Nelson. “Spatial Analysis of Neighborhood Characteristics and Crime Reporting in Tacoma, Washington.” GIS Certificate Program, University of Washington, Tacoma. http://depts.washington.edu/uwtgis/gallery/tgis_312/20071/ bradshaw_nelson_tgis312_2007.pdf. Brand, Sam, and Richard Price, eds. The Economic and Social Costs of Crime. Home Office Research Study 217, 2000. http://publicpolicy.umd.edu/faculty/reuter/ CCJS%20720/Brand%20and%20Price.pdf. Durham Crime Statistics and Crime Data (Durham, NC). “Durham North Carolina Crime Statistics and Data Resources.” http://durham.areaconnect.com/crime1.htm Kelly, Morgan. “Inequality and Crime. (United States Study Results) (Statistical Data Included).” Review of Economics and Statistics 82.4 (Nov 2000): p 530. http:// find.galegroup.com/itx/retrieve.do?contentSet=IAC-Documents&qrySerId=&inPS= true&tabID=T002&prodId=ITOF&searchId=R1&retrieveFormat=PDF¤tPositi on=1&userGroupName=unc_main&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&sort=DateDescend &docId=A68273649&noOfPages=10 Muro, Mark, Bruce Katz, Sarah Rahman, David Warre. “MetroPolicy: Shaping a New Federal Partnership for a Metropolitan Nation.” Washington DC: Brookings Institution Center, 2008. Pagano, Michael A., Ann O’M. Bowman. “Vacant Land in Cities: An Urban Resource.” Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Center, 2000. Patterson, E. Britt. “Poverty, Income Inequality, and Community Crime Rates.” Criminology 29.1 (Feb 1991): p 755-756. http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein. journals/crim29&collection=journals&page=755
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Building Effective College Access
Nikki Rumley, Menna Mburi, Grayson Cooper, Amanda Conklin, Mario Fitzgerald, Anna Peterson, and Joy Lampkin University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Executive Summary • Not everyone has equal access to higher education: minorities, low income students, and 1st generation college-goers are at a disadvantage. • College access programs have been implemented to address disparity in college access. • College access programs have varying program methods, strategies, and definitions of effectiveness. • Outcomes of the programs are rarely researched and evaluated, and often recorded results are subjective and are not based in sound research. • Two different models of college access programs, CalSOAP and Admission Possible, are discussed. • Carolina College Advising Corps, a third model created by the University of North Carolina, is discussed. Anecdotal results of the program are provided through interviews of advisers. • Lack of systemization and research for college advising programs is discussed. • College advising programs have the potential to be more effective and efficient if they are more thoroughly researched and evaluated for effectiveness. Background A college education is essential for attaining a high standard of living in the United States. A study by Day and Newburger (2002) demonstrated that college graduates earn up to $27,000 more than high school graduates. In recent years, higher education has increased in importance. Changes in technology have caused a greater need for skilled workers, and the decline of labor unions and in real minimum wage have contributed to a decrease in unskilled workers’ salaries. Textile workers and craftsmen in the South are among those who have borne the brunt of these changes. According to a news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2007), the majority of the thirty fastest growing occupations require post-secondary education. In addition to individual benefits, society as a whole benefits from having an educated workforce. A 2005 CollegeBoard report by Baum and Payea indicates that individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher volunteer, vote, and report good health more often than those with lower educational achievement. Conversely, bachelor’s degree earners smoke less and have lower incarcera-
tion rates, thus they do not put as much of a strain on government resources. While evidence has not proven a causal link between a bachelor’s degree and the categories listed, the trend suggests a positive effect of a college education on social welfare. Unfortunately, different demographics of students have uneven access to higher education. In 2000, among U.S. residents over the age of 25, 28% of White non-Hispanics had received a Bachelor’s degree, compared to 12% of Blacks, and 11% of Hispanics (Day and Newburger 2002). Socioeconomic status also plays a role: fewer low-income students enroll in college than do students from families with higher incomes. Beginning with James Coleman’s report on equality of educational opportunity (1966), researchers have debated what enables some children to achieve over others. They agree, however, that the achievement gap continues to grow. One approach to addressing this issue is college access programs. These programs focus on three main factors to prepare students to apply and enroll in college: academic preparation, familiarity with higher education, and financial assistance (St. John 1991). College access programs address these through outreach initiatives such as college visits, summer seminars teaching academic skills, SAT and ACT training, and assisting parents with financial aid forms. Overall, these programs strive to enroll greater numbers of underrepresented populations in college. Because of the various methods college access programs employ to address the discrepancy in college enrollment, one can measure effectiveness in a few ways: the number of students enrolled in the particular program, the number who become college ready, the number who go to college, the number who go to college who would not have gone without the program, the types of colleges program participants attend, and the number who actually graduate from college. This paper attempts to highlight different strategies and methods college access programs use for increasing the enrollment of racial minorities, first-generation students, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds in college. The variety of strategies employed by college access programs makes defining their effectiveness difficult. Because of this, few programs have accurate and reliable data on both the effectiveness of different aspects of their model as well as on the program as a whole. Through a discussion of two different models of college advising programs as well as a qualitative study of a third model, Carolina College Advising Corps, the need for a systematic analysis of the effectiveness of college access programs becomes evident. Before more resources are appropriated for college access programs, an efficient allocation
of resources must be identified. Therefore, future attempts to research college access programs must conform to a measurable framework before asserting levels of effectiveness. Review of College Access Programs Many college access programs try to prepare students for college in the early stages of their education. This long-term model focuses primarily on students who come from low-income backgrounds, are a part of an under-represented minority group, or are the first in their family to attend college. Beginning as early as fifth grade, these programs work with students with the ultimate goal of acceptance and enrollment in college. Long-term programs, which often span at least five years, provide a broader range of services than programs that work exclusively with high school juniors and seniors. In addition to assisting students with college applications and connecting students to financial aid, these long-range programs provide services that help students prepare academically and personally for college. Common components of these long-term programs include tutorials, study skill development, workshops on goal setting and decision-making, standardized test preparation, and mentoring. By building academic skills, these programs try to prepare students not only for the college application process, but also for higher education itself. An example of a program that operates on this model is Cal-SOAP, or California Student Opportunity and Access Program. This state-administered program provides year-round services for junior high and high school students. Cal-SOAP includes all of the typical components of a standard long-term college access program: workshops to provide students with information on financial aid and local scholarships, regular sessions that help students build study skills, and SAT preparation classes. Additionally, Cal-SOAP has a full time staff of professionals and college students who serve as tutors and mentors for participants throughout their academic development. The short-term model of College Access programs focuses on the barriers facing students throughout the college application process. Students typically enter these programs as juniors in high school and learn skills that are directly applicable to the college application and admission process. Short-term programs often involve preparation or assistance in registering for college entrance exams and always include assistance in completing applications for colleges and financial aid or scholarships. These programs might arrange college visits or develop essay writing and interview skills, but unlike programs that reach out to students earlier, short-term programs only teach skills that prepare students specifically for the college application process. Admission Possible, a college access program based in Minnesota, is one of
these short-term programs. At the end of their sophomore year, low-income high school students at participating schools may apply for admission into the program. If accepted, they attend workshops after school throughout their junior and senior years. They receive intensive preparation for the ACT and learn skills for writing application essays. College visits are organized for the students, and they receive guidance in selecting and applying to schools. The program helps students apply for financial aid and scholarships and offers support as they transition into college. The program does not address students’ academic preparation, but instead focuses on the skills students need to apply and enroll in college. A Different Method: Carolina College Advising Corps Many programs that fit these models are run by private organizations and serve a limited number of students. To ensure that all students have access to educational opportunities, a program needs to be established that addresses the needs of more students, particularly those attending underserved schools in rural areas or with high levels of minority students. The Carolina College Advising Corps, another form of college access program, seeks to address this issue by providing additional resources to supplement the current guidance counselor staff in selected low performing high schools. The Carolina College Advising Corps began in 2007 when the National College Advising Corps established a chapter affiliated with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The program started in eight North Carolina schools and expanded to nineteen schools the following year. Recent UNC graduates are selected to be an adviser at low performing schools and to serve for one or two years. Advisers serve districts of varying demographics and sizes ranging from rural Halifax County to North Carolina’s most populated county, Mecklenburg. The advisers are available for consultation to all students in the high school, but most of their time is devoted to assisting juniors and seniors in applying to and enrolling in college and gaining the financial aid to afford college. First generation, low income, and minority students are the primary focus of the advising corps. Before serving the school, advisers participate in six weeks of training in academics, college selection, and financial aid programs of different colleges. The information they receive is in large part specific to North Carolina schools; however, it does include knowledge on outside scholarships, grants, and federal loans. Advisers also attend tours of the campuses of many North Carolina universities, both private and public. Once placed in a school, each adviser works with the school’s current guidance counselor to assist students in college planning and applying for financial aid. Students see an adviser to gather information on specific colleges, determine if potential colleges are appropriate
considering a student’s academic achievement, SAT and/or ACT scores, and personality. Advisers inform students of financial aid resources including scholarships offered by these colleges and opportunities for outside scholarships. Data has not yet been collected on the effectiveness of the Carolina College Advising Corps. In order to present an initial glimpse into the structure and effectiveness of the program, interviews of four of the fourteen CCAC counselors were conducted. The interviews have several limitations, most notably the lack of reliable numerical data to measure experiences of advised students; the responses are largely anecdotal. In addition, a low response level may also have affected the results of the survey. Future studies should address these limitations, as well as the lack of empirical research on college access programs in general. CCAC Survey Analysis A survey of four CCAC counselors revealed that the counselors perceived that most students needed assistance in completing college applications, particularly in essay composition, applying for financial aid, and scholarship searches. These are the three primary areas of advising. Beyond this, they provided limited advising services for SAT and ACT registration, course selection, and extra-curricular activities. These advisers believed that they helped a large number of students enroll in college who would not have otherwise attended. The financial aid and scholarship advising that the advisers provided was essential to increasing college enrollment, and they identified this area of advising as their greatest success. Advisers also helped students to overcome their fears about applying to college by building confidence and making the paperwork load more manageable. They provided more information to students about the college process through many strategies: one-on-one advising sessions, group advising, hosting alumni visits, college fairs, and guest speakers at their high schools. Advisers cited their accessibility to students as a primary tenant to their success. They noted that students were more likely to seek help from CCAC advisers because the advisers had just graduated from college. Unlike the schools’ guidance counselors, CCAC advisers were given the opportunity to focus solely on college application. From the perspective of the advisers, they were making a difference in the schools they served. One adviser estimated that 70-75% of students she advised secured admittance to college, and she believed that 20 of the students she advised out of both schools she worked in would not have enrolled without her assistance. Another adviser stated that she believed that roughly a third of the students admitted to college would not have been able to
attend due to financial restraints, but she was able to help secure the resources they needed. Overall, they are confident that as CCAC grows and begins to compile data, the numbers will show a rise in college attendees in the high schools served by the program. Conclusion In order to reduce the discrepancy in college access for low income, minority, and first generation students, the government and many independent organizations have created a variety of college access programs. Though each of these programs is distinct, most of them are based on one of a few standard models. The National College Access Program Directory lists more than 100 organizations just within North Carolina that have the stated mission of increasing college admission rates and/or preparing students for college. This increasing number of college access programs implies that there is a great need for these types of organizations. However, despite the widely held belief that more resources within a school will foster greater student development, these college access programs have not proven to be effective, in large part because of the lack of a system to measure success. As previously mentioned, the absence of a tracking and measuring system prevents researchers from gauging the programs’ success or failure. This paper demonstrates the need for a further study of college access programs by highlighting their lack of systemization and necessary research. We propose a traditional social science study on the effectiveness of college access programs. Measuring against a control group, researchers should seek to discern what models of college access program and which strategies that program employs foster the best long-term results. Determining what aspects of these programs are the most effective could be a key to shrinking the achievement gap and strengthening the American work force. The establishment of a systematic means of tracking the success of all of these programs may be helpful for governments, schools, and individuals who are thinking of starting similar programs. Reliable data that may include such information as program retention rates, college admission rates, and college graduation rates will help to prove which types of programs are most effective. Moreover, such a collection of data will help guide these organizations’ decisions as they continue to provide services and expand. For a complete view of data collected across sevent college access programs, please refer to the Appendix.
Baum, S. and Payea, K. (2005). Education pays 2004: The benefits of higher education for individuals and society. College Entrance Examination Board. Retrieved from http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/press/cost04/EducationPays2004.pdf. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2007). Table 1. The fastest growing occupations covered in the 2008-2009 occupational outlook handbook. Retrieved from http://library.nmu. edu/guides/userguides/style_apa.htm#E6. Day, J.C. and Newburger, E.C. (2002). The big payoff: Educational attainment and synthetic estimates of work-life earnings (P23-210). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau. St. John, E.P. (1991). What really influences minority attendance? Sequential analyses of the High School and Beyond sophomore cohort. Research in Higher Education. 32(2): 141-158. Coleman, J.S., Campbell, E.Q., Hobson, C.J., McPartland, J., Mood, A.M., Weinfeld, F.D., and York, R.L. (1966). Equality of Educational Opportunity. (Report No. OE-38001). Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED012275). Retrieved from ERIC database. National College Access Network. (2008). Retrieved March 31, 2009 from Pathways to College Network and National College Access Network Website: http://www.collegeaccess.org.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. http://www.admissionpossible.org http://www.striveforcollege.org http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/ps/avidgen.asp Personal communication with Joyce Smith Personal communication with Leah Yang Bergin, D.A., Cooks, H.C., Bergin, C.C. (2007). Effects of a college access program for youth underrepresented in higher education. Research in Higher Education. Vol. 8(6). doi: 10.1007/s11162-006-9049-9 http://www.teri.org/
Appendix: Data Collected across Seven College Access Programs
Table 1: Services Offered
Admission Possible1 Strive for College2 AVID3 MissisSanta sippi DOE Barbara (Education- CalSOAP5 al Talent Search)4 x x just begun x EXCEL6 TERI7
Test Prep College Admissions Advising Financial Aid Advising & Assitance Course Selection Mentoring/ Tutoring College Visits Internships
x x x
x x x
x x x x
x x x x x x
x x x x x
Table 2: Target Population
Admission Possible1 Strive for College2 AVID3 MissisSanta sippi DOE Barbara (Education- CalSOAP5 al Talent Search)4 depends, enroll in middle school grades 9-12 year-round services for middle and high school EXCEL6 TERI7
apply as sophomore
start in 6th grade
summer after 8th grade grades 9-12
start in 6th grade
Year in high school
juniors in spring semester, seniors low income, minority, 1st generation
low income and/or minority/ underrepresented
low income, minority, 1st generation
low income, 1st generation
underrepresented highachieving students
underserved, 1st generation, New England
Table 3: Program Operators
Admission Possible1 Strive for College2 AVID3 MissisSanta sippi DOE Barbara (Education- CalSOAP5 al Talent Search)4 funded by DOE, program is state-administered sponsored by local university based in high schools EXCEL6 TERI7
Community non-profit Gov’t AmeriCorps volunteers receives state funding
non-profit funded by DOE
universities sponsor events for participants courses in m.s. and h.s.
offices in high schools
Table 4: Program Challenges
Admission Possible1 Strive for College2 AVID3 MissisSanta sippi DOE Barbara (Education- CalSOAP5 al Talent Search)4 EXCEL6 TERI7
GPA 2.0+, 2 teacher recommendations, application
Eligible students are m.s. and h.s. students from lowincome, minority, 1st generation bkg volunteer site coordinator/ teacher + college student tutors $3.51 million
Counselor recommendation, 3.0 GPA, test scores at 8th grade level or better, essay college students & others
$3,000 per student, free to student 1,300 (20082009 year)
4,369 schools served
43 in EXCEL, 40 in control group (study)
Nearly 11,000 in outreach in 2005
• 99% admitted • 95% of those admitted enroll
Strive for College
• AVID graduates have higher college-going rates for all students. • 84% of graduates complete the sequence of courses necessary for 4-year college admissions. • Graduates enrolled in California higher ed at a higher rate than San Diego counterparts. • 55% of African Americans who participated in AVID for 3 years enrolled in four-year colleges, beating the national average of 33% enrollment for the general African American population. • 43% of Latino students in AVID enrolled at four-year colleges, exceeding the national average of 29%.
Mississippi DOE (Educational Talent Search)
• College admission rate: 80%
Santa Barbara CalSOAP
• No effect on overall college-going rate. • Participants did attend the sponsoring university at a slightly higher rate. • Participants desired higher education more than control group participants.
• Since 1985, TERI has guaranteed loans for over 1 million students attending 6,000 colleges and universities worldwide.
Simplifying Eligibility for Kids
Tracy Yang University of Georgia
Executive Summary • PeachCare for Kids (PCK) provides free or low-cost health coverage for Georgia children in low-income families and is part of the federally sponsored Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). • PCK is supported by federal and state funds and administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH). Federal funds account for 73 percent of funding for PCK.1 • A lack of funds for CHIP at the federal level resulted in under-provision of funds to PCK. In response, the Georgia DCH has frozen enrollment. The DCH later lifted the freeze but increased documentation requirements for proof of income, citizenship, and identity. Reasons for this change are unclear because DCH officials stated that increased regulatory measures were not instituted in response to abuses of the program by ineligible individuals.2 • Case studies of procedural barriers in the CHIP programs of other states suggest that increased administrative hurdles regarding eligibility for PCK will result in lower rates of coverage for eligible children in Georgia, greater administrative costs, and decreased health outcomes for Georgia children overall. As expected, there has been a 22 percent decrease (60,736 children) in enrollment from 2007 to 2008.3 • The Georgia DCH should reinstate the simplified verification methods used to determine proof of income. Such methods would include self-attestation, citizenship confirmation (through social security numbers), administrative verification of income, and presumptive eligibility (where qualified institutions identify children likely eligible for temporary coverage to determine citizenship and identity).4 • Increasing enrollment of uninsured children already eligible for PCK will help Georgia provide health insurance for low-income children and improve health outcomes. Background Health insurance increases children’s access to primary care and helps them lead healthier lives. A study by Selden and Hudson of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services) found that children without health insurance coverage have lower rates of access to preventive care, which may increase the need for future medical attention and treatment costs.5 Because these uninsured chil-
dren do not receive preventive care, more costly treatment options are often required for later, more complicated health problems. Recognizing the need to increase children’s access to care, the U.S. Congress enacted Title XXI of the Social Security Act in 1997 to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This program provides health coverage for uninsured children up to age 19 in low-income families whose incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid.6 In Georgia, the income threshold for eligible families is 235 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $49,800 for a family of four.7 CHIP has experienced much popular support, as 90 percent of Americans support adequate health care coverage for low-income children.8 In Georgia, PCK provides health care for uninsured children in Georgia families with household income below 235 percent of the federal poverty level.9 As outlined by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, H.R. 2015, while CHIP is jointly financed by federal and state governments, the states handle all administration under general federal guidelines. These guidelines require states to submit plans for outreach activities and eligibility requirements to the federal government. Because requirements are determined on a state-by-state basis, eligibility requirements vary across the nation. Resulting from the CHIP program, Georgia created PeachCare for Kids (PCK) under Section 49-5-273 of the Official Code of Georgia in 1999 with CHIP funds. The Division of Medical Assistance within the Georgia DCH administers PeachCare for Kids and Medicaid and develops the policies that set eligibility and other requirements. The nine-person Board of Community Health, another part of the DCH, also influences policies concerning PCK,10 which recently began to suffer due to federal funding cutbacks. This has left the state of Georgia $131 million dollars short of essential funding for PCK by February 2007.11 The Georgia DCH instituted an enrollment freeze for PCK on March 11, 2007 in response to the shortfall.12 After Congress passed legislation appropriating funds for states experiencing CHIP shortfalls in May 2007, the DCH lifted the enrollment freeze in July 2007.13,14 However, at this time the DCH also increased eligibility requirements for enrollment in PCK. Specifically, the DCH began to require original documentation for proof of income and citizenship, eliminating the use of self-attestation and administrative verification.15 The intent of these measures was to screen out ineligible applicants more effectively, thus cutting the costs for covering ineligible children. In traditional administrative verification, state officials utilize state databases and case records to confirm reported income. New applicants for PCK must send proof of income through various forms such as pay stubs, unemployment checks, letters from employers, Social Security Administration award letters, or other documented work statements. In order to continue eligibility, recipients must provide verification of income every year, shifting the
burden of proof from the government through state database authorization to the recipient. The Medicaid Citizenship Documentation Requirement, a provision of the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), S. 1932, complicates enrollment procedures further for eligible children.16 U.S. citizenship has been a requirement for Medicaid in the past, but applicants could self-attest to their status. However, the DRA altered this system to require proof of citizenship through the presentation of original documentation. Although the citizenship documentation requirement does not directly apply to CHIP, some states, such as Georgia after the enrollment freeze, have applied the same enrollment procedures for both Medicaid and CHIP.17 Citizenship and identity documentation are organized into three levels. Applicants for PCK can send documentation confirming citizenship and identity with first level documents such as passports, certificates of citizenship, or certificates of naturalization. If applicants lack these documents, they must submit one document from the second level to prove citizenship (birth certificates, extracts of hospital records on hospital letterhead, or other birth or adoption records and one document from the third level to prove identity (an identification card issued by federal, state, or local governments, school records, or other similar documents).18 Impact of Policy Changes on Enrollment The original intent of the DRA was to “ensure that Medicaid beneficiaries are citizens without imposing undue burdens on them or the states”.19 However, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Mark McClellan, stated that “The [Inspector General’s] report does not find particular problems regarding false allegations of citizenship, nor are we aware of any” when the DRA was passed, complicating the legitimacy and necessity of such a measure.20 Since there was not a serious problem with ineligible applicants, many of the people who were rejected after the policy change were likely eligible. In fact, the measures enacted by the bill have reduced health coverage for eligible U.S. citizens because of the difficulty of obtaining necessary documentation.21 As expected, the change from self-attestation and administrative verification has contributed to the 22 percent enrollment decrease in PCK, coverage gaps for children, and increased administrative costs because of the complications involved in obtaining original documentation.22,23 The reduction of administrative hurdles for families leads to reduced administrative costs as seen in the state of New York. One New York study found that up to 80 percent of the $280 it costs to enroll a child in a public health insurance program is associated with the complicated calculations and rules concerning
eligibility determinations. Sixty-one percent of the total cost of enrollment was spent on application completion and documentation gathering. The study also estimated that a simplified system requiring fewer documents would reduce enrollment costs by 40 percent.24 Covering more children will require increased funding in the short-term but will lead to decreased spending overall due to reduced costs of uncompensated care and lower administrative costs. Enrollment in CHIP and Medicaid is sensitive to changes in administrative procedures. A Congressional Research Service report by April Grady demonstrated declines in enrollment after the application of stringent enrollment procedures; 13 states have reported a significant negative impact on enrollment while another 24 report a modest impact.25 Furthermore, 16 states have reported that thousands of people who seem to be eligible U.S. citizens (having provided citizenship documentation but not a second form confirming identity) have either lost or delayed benefits from CHIP,26 including Connecticut and Wisconsin, which experienced declines in enrollment in their CHIP programs after enacting documentation requirements for income and citizenship.27 A recent report by the DCH states that PCK enrollment decreased by 22 percent between July 2007 and June 2008 after eligibility rules increasing required original documentation went into effect.28 It is unlikely that this percentage of PCK enrollees were illegitimate. Case studies and nationwide analyses indicate that this decrease is largely associated with complicated eligibility and enrollment procedures and will lead to lower health outcomes. In Georgia, increased documentation requirements were the only major policy changes for PCK, further suggesting that the decline was linked to the changes. Overly stringent eligibility requirements create inefficiencies and threaten child health. Over 300,000 children in Georgia, or 12.5 percent of Georgia children, are uninsured.29 According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a non-governmental organization that provides research for policymakers regarding state issues, an estimated 100,000 children were eligible for PCK but not enrolled as of 2007.30 This estimate may even be modest because Georgia lacks effective methods for identifying uninsured but eligible children. Inefficiencies involved in the determination of eligibility for PCK exist at various levels throughout the application process and may be related to serious detriments to child health care in Georgia. The hassle of obtaining documents for the PCK application discourages families from beginning or continuing the application process. After families provide the necessary documentation, program administrators must also spend time verifying and monitoring these documents. PCK cannot provide health insurance for all of Georgia’s children, but simplification of procedural requirements regarding documentation would
most likely cause a significant increase in coverage for eligible children residing in Georgia. As demonstrated by previous research outlined above, increases in documentation requirements are linked to decreases in enrollment. Simplifying Eligibility Requirements for PCK The Georgia Department of Community Health should adopt simplified verification methods such as a combined Medicaid and PCK application, determination of proof of income through self-declaration and administrative verification of income, utilization of presumptive eligibility to deliver needed care immediately, and acceptance of social security numbers to establish citizenship and identity. These measures will increase coverage for eligible children and promote administrative efficiency. A Single Application for PCK and Medicaid State officials of the DCH should simplify the overall application processes for Medicaid and PCK by providing a single application for both programs. A single application for PCK and Medicaid would decrease administrative costs and increase the efficiency of the application process for families. The DCH administers both PCK and Medicaid in Georgia, and a combined application would not require significant bureaucratic restructuring. A single application allows families to provide necessary information once, and program administrators can determine whether the child is eligible for Medicaid or PCK. The state of Indiana reported that the use of a joint application for its children’s Medicaid and CHIP program, Hoosier Healthwise, has decreased the time that state workers spend verifying information provided by applicants by half and has further saved on printing costs.31 Instead of applying for one program, and potentially being rejected and having to apply for another program, parents could apply for both programs at once, increasing the likelihood of their children receiving coverage in an efficient manner. Self-Attestation and Administrative Verification of Income Self-declaration of income has been the historical method of determining eligibility for CHIP-funded programs and provides another method of simplifying the application process for families. Under this process, applicants provide information on their incomes under penalty of perjury if they provide false information. States use existing administrative records to verify applicants’ incomes and supplement verification with random audits. Increased utilization of information, which is already obtained by government agencies, will facilitate eligibility evaluation through administrative verification without unnecessary effort from applying families. In order to ensure the accuracy of the information about family incomes, states often employ confirmation measures using state databases, state departments of labor, and available case records as well as conducting third-party checks before determining final eligibility. Previously,
Georgia caseworkers were required to consult three databases before determining a child’s eligibility for PCK or Medicaid.32 Georgia utilized these methods for years before the policy change, and reinstitution of these measures would not create significant hurdles due to the systems previously in place. If families are rejected from this application due to a lack of available records or information, an alternative application process involving the current requirements of original documentation should still be available. Through these verification methods, the enrollment process is simplified while the program’s selection process is still effective and efficient. Administrators must confirm eligibility whether documentation is required or not, and administrative verification reduces the paperwork that families must complete. By shifting the administrative burden back to the government, costs in terms of time and hassle to the applicants are reduced, thus leading to increased enrollment among those who are eligible. This practice also accelerates enrollment, leading to greater numbers of applicant children receiving timely coverage. An overview of procedures enacted by several states by Ross (director of outreach at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) and Hill (senior research associate at the Health Policy Research Center at the Urban Institute) shows that enrollment increases in states that institute simplified procedures such as administrative verification.33 Use of Social Security Numbers to Determine Citizenship and Identity The Georgia DCH should allow families to use their children’s social security numbers as proof of qualification for PCK as opposed to the current requirement for documentation to confirm citizenship and identity. Many states, including Georgia, have interpreted the Medicaid Citizenship Documentation Requirement in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act to apply to both Medicaid and CHIP. Presentation of original documents to prove citizenship and identity has been associated with substantial enrollment declines in these states. Families already must present proof of legal immigration status or citizenship to the Social Security Administration in order to obtain social security numbers for their children. Further, the Social Security Administration confirms the submitted documents through the same methods used by CHIP-sponsored programs such as PCK through the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.34 If a family applies for PCK and the child lacks a social security number, the family must then provide proper documentation based on the existing framework outlined by the Georgia DCH and the DRA. Some states have not implemented a social security number requirement due to the potential of families with undocumented parents being discouraged from enrolling their eligible children in CHIP programs. However, PCK should assure parents that the social security number is only necessary for the child.35
Presumptive Eligibility The Georgia DCH should also adopt presumptive eligibility to temporarily enroll children who appear eligible for PCK benefits to provide immediate and necessary care to children. Insurance providers began using presumptive eligibility in the 1980s to determine whether an individual was likely eligible for Medicaid.36 Presumptive eligibility allows clinics, hospitals, schools, and other qualified entities to determine temporary eligibility for some public benefits. Under these measures, children who appear eligible for PCK or Medicaid benefits (based on self-reported incomes or enrollment in programs such as those for reduced or free lunch) are provided with temporary coverage while their families complete the necessary steps to apply for continued coverage. The DCH will set a time frame for temporary coverage lasting the average duration of application processing; however, this precaution may be unnecessary since decreased documentation places the application processing time in the control of state officials. PCK will reimburse providers for delivering care during this period, even if the child is later found to be ineligible for such coverage.37 The purpose for this provision is to allow children to access necessary medical care immediately. Presumptive eligibility prevents substantial delays in coverage while still providing a time limit to avert abuses of the program. Ten states have adopted presumptive eligibility procedures for either Medicaid or CHIP potential eligibility determination. Numerous studies have shown that self-declaration of income and presumptive eligibility both increase enrollment numbers considerably, and rampant abuses have not been documented as a result of these measures.38 Simplification of citizenship confirmation increases the efficiency of enrollment of eligible children. More efficient enrollment of eligible children will lead to higher rates of coverage for Georgia children as well. By eliminating documentation requirements while maintaining verification of information through efficient and effective methods, the Georgia DCH will reduce procedural obstacles that waste state resources and complicate enrollment without sacrificing the integrity of PCK. Benefits of Simplified Enrollment Procedures for PCK State-specific studies have investigated various public health benefits associated with enrollment in CHIP programs. A study based on Colorado’s Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) found that the percentage of families who reported in a survey that it was “very easy” or “easy” to obtain necessary health care for their children increased from 53.9 percent to 73.1 percent after enrollment in the program.39 Furthermore, the percentage of families who reported that their children saw health care providers as soon as they were sick or injured increased from 77.5 percent to 90.9 percent. Necessary specialists’ visits also increased from 34.0 percent to 56.6 percent.40 Enrollment in New York’s CHIP
program (CHPlus) increased primary care visits by 42 percent and lowered hospitalizations by 36 percent.41 The increase in utilization of primary care and reduction of hospitalizations indicates better health outcomes overall, since preventive primary care is more effective at maintaining health than reliance on hospitalizations for emergency situations. These examples indicate that increasing enrollment in PCK is a vital step toward improving access of care and health outcomes for Georgia’s children. Health insurance carries many benefits for children and their families. Children with health insurance have better access to preventive and primary health care.42 Enrollees in PCK and other CHIP programs are more likely than uninsured children to receive office visits for primary care, preventive care, dental care, and are less likely to have emergency room visits. Relationships between access to health care and better school attendance, participation, and performance have been found as well. For example, a California study conducted by the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board and researchers from the Center for Child Health Outcomes, Children´s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego surveyed parents and found that children enrolled in CHIP or other public insurance programs demonstrated a 68 percent improvement in their ability to pay attention during school and keep up with assignments and activities.43 Reducing the amount of documentation required to determine PCK eligibility will also decrease costs from a long-term perspective. As stated earlier, enrollment in New York’s CHIP program (CHPlus) saw increases in primary care visits by 42 percent and lowered hospitalizations by 36 percent when compared to uninsured children.44 Additionally, because the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA, Title 42, § 1395dd) states that hospitals must screen and stabilize any individual who arrives at the emergency department and requests assistance regardless of their ability to pay,45 fewer hospitalizations result in lower costs incurred from uncompensated care. Parents can take their insured children to receive primary care in the early stages of illness rather than waiting on serious health problems to arise before seeking care in emergency rooms. Due to financial constraints, the uninsured tend to seek health care from emergency rooms when a doctor visit could be much more effective and less costly for the system overall. From a public health perspective, healthy children create a healthier society as a whole. Children participate in many activities in which they are in close contact with others, such as attending day care programs and schools. Providing every child with adequate health care and its associated benefits, such as immunization and primary care, not only decreases the burden on taxpayers by reducing incidences of less cost-effective uncompensated care for preventable diseases, but also protects the health of all children and adults through the
prevention of the pathogens proliferation.46 School-age children with health insurance and their parents would benefit from the coverage of other eligible but uninsured children through decreased exposure to untreated, preventable communicable diseases. This public health benefit is a justification for the subsidization of children through PCK; though the general public may have to spend more in taxes, the public also benefits from decreased exposure to various illnesses and ultimately lower health care costs. Wisconsin, Medicaid, and BadgerCare: A Case Study The comparison between Wisconsin’s Medicaid program and Georgia’s CHIP program is relevant due to similar issues involving enrollment and eligibility requirements, as Wisconsin’s program provides an example of the effects of documentation requirements on enrollment. Between July 31, 2006 and March 1, 2007, 19,413 Medicaid-eligible individuals in Wisconsin had their Medicaid coverage denied or terminated because of citizenship documentation requirements.47 Despite Wisconsin’s attempt to reduce the impact of the DRA requirement by obtaining birth records electronically from its Vital Records agency, enrollment still decreased. Obtaining original documentation, especially if administrators required applicants to provide proof of identity with additional proof of citizenship, was a major factor contributing to the drop in enrollment. Of the applicants denied Medicaid, 66.5 percent lacked an identity document, whereas 19.9 percent of applicants lacked required citizenship documents (certificates of citizenship, naturalization, and identity documents included government-issued identity cards), while only 12.3 percent lacked both citizenship and identity documents.48 These percentages suggest that applicants denied Medicaid coverage were U.S. citizens rather than non-citizens attempting to obtain public benefits; if applicants are able to provide citizenship documentation, the likelihood that they are eligible citizens is high. It is more likely that the hassle of obtaining additional documents resulted in incomplete applications as opposed to applicants putting forth the effort of forging one necessary document but not another. Increased documentation requirements created additional hassles that amplified the time and effort required to apply for health care benefits. Wisconsin’s CHIP program, BadgerCare, also experienced declines in enrollment. Between August 1, 2006 and January 1, 2008, Wisconsin reported that 32,907 children were blocked from receiving Medical Assistance or BadgerCare because of documentation requirements. In 62 percent of these cases, termination or denial was due only to lack of identification rather than lack of documentation confirming citizenship.49 Because the majority of applicants being denied coverage through Medicaid or CHIP were actually eligible for benefits, factors including the difficulty of
obtaining out-of-state records (if the families in question had moved from another state), increased hassle and time required for enrollment, and complications caused by documentation requirements most likely played a major role in these denials. Wisconsin responded to declining CHIP enrollment by removing the requirement for documentation of income and implementing administrative verification instead. The state did not remove citizenship and identity documentation requirements, though such measures would simplify the application process further. Wisconsin’s experiences with fluctuating enrollment of eligible children in response to changing documentation requirements suggest that increased documentation requirements played a major role in the recent decline in enrollment in PCK. Simplification of these requirements would likely increase enrollment of eligible but uninsured children who need this assistance but are unable to receive benefits due to administrative barriers. Challenges Involved with Increasing PCK Enrollment In light of long-term CHIP funding challenges, PCK funding shortfalls, and recent national and statewide economic struggles, the main challenges facing increased enrollment in PCK are fiscal. Policy makers in the Georgia DCH may be concerned about the responses of the Legislature, Governor, and citizens if they change eligibility requirements that decrease documentation required for enrollment. However, although the cost of increasing insurance coverage for children may seem unaffordable, health insurance for children is relatively inexpensive due to its preventive nature. The cost of uncompensated care and other forms of healthcare provided for non-preventative purposes is higher than the cost of providing insurance coverage. Health insurance is linked to the utilization of primary care and can prevent many serious and expensive health problems.50 Citizens of Georgia may have to pay increased taxes during the period in which large numbers of eligible but uninsured children are enrolled in PCK. However, this will be offset by reducing administrative costs to enroll children in PCK, as well as less uncompensated care and fewer emergency hospitalizations for preventable health problems. Furthermore, the recent passage of H.R. 2 (now P.L. 111-3) provides additional funding and incentives for the DCH to institute the measures recommended in this policy and utilize newly available federal funding to offset short-term costs.51 Higher enrollment in health insurance is linked to increased use of preventive care and decreases in uncompensated care. In 2004, the U.S. spent $40.7 billion dollars on healthcare for people lacking health insurance, and $5.4 billion was for uninsured children.52 All U.S. citizens must pay increased taxes and insurance costs due to uncompensated care for the uninsured because of the requirement under the EMTALA to screen and stabilize all individuals seeking treatment in emergency departments. In fact, in 2005, private employer health insurance was $922 higher on average per family due the costs incurred by the
system by the uninsured.53 The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that federal and state enrollment costs of insuring eligible but uninsured children would amount to about $8.8 billion dollars a year after increasing efficiencies in eligibility.54 A $3.4 billion dollar increase ($5.4 billion subtracted from $8.8 billion) in federal and state spending due to children’s health care is relatively small, especially when compared to current federal and state spending on Medicaid ($316 billion).55 This $3.4 billion dollar increase also does not factor in reductions in spending on uncompensated care or decreases in insurance premiums. Spending on uncompensated hospital care would also be reduced because insured children require fewer emergency room visits, and these visits will no longer create uncompensated care costs.56 Funds spent on children’s health insurance that will prevent health problems are more effective than dollars spent on uncompensated care to treat issues that arise due to lack of preventive care. Another challenge to relaxing documentation requirements for PCK eligibility may be concerns by Georgia citizens and state officials that non-citizens will benefit from this public insurance program without paying taxes to support it. Whether or not non-citizen children should receive public health insurance benefits is not an issue addressed by this policy, but the steps involved in implementing this policy strive to uphold the integrity of PCK enrollment. Self-attestation and administrative verification of income, presumptive eligibility, and use of social security numbers to determine citizenship or immigration status still incorporate checks conducted by PCK administrators to verify information that applicants provide. A small number of ineligible children might receive health care coverage, but the benefits provided by covering the estimated 100,000 eligible but uninsured children in Georgia (a 31 percent increase in total PCK enrollment) outweigh the negative repercussions of a handful of ineligible children receiving care.57 Conclusion Simplification of PCK documentation requirements for eligibility will result in increased enrollment of eligible but uninsured children. By utilizing practices such as a single application for PCK and Medicaid, self-attestation and administrative verification of income, presumptive eligibility, and use of social security numbers to determine citizenship and identity, the Georgia DCH will streamline the processes through which children can receive benefits from PCK while maintaining standards that will prevent ineligible applicants from receiving coverage. Because children are unable to enroll themselves in PCK, the application process should be as simple as possible for families with the government responsible for confirming provided information. The short-term costs of increased enrollment in PCK may cause some citizens and legislators to op123
pose this policy, however long-term benefits include fewer taxes paid by the citizens of Georgia to cover uncompensated care and preventable emergency hospitalizations, better health of society as a whole, and increased coverage for children who are already eligible for PCK benefits. Coverage for children is a stated goal of both federal and state legislation regarding CHIP and PCK. The steps outlined in this policy proposal apply directly to PCK but also provide examples of policy measures that can be implemented in other states to increase enrollment of eligible children in CHIP programs. Works Cited
1. “Issue Brief: PeachCare for Kids Funding.” Emory University. http://www.sph.emory.edu/WHP/documents/2007percent20Session/PeachCare_Issue.pdf (accessed Sep. 20, 2008). Ross, Donna Cohen, Aleya Horn, and Caryn Marks. “Health Coverage for Children and Families in Medicaid and CHIP: State Efforts Face New Hurdles.” Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. www.kff.org/medicaid/7740.cfm (accessed Sep. 15, 2008). Summers, Carie. “Amended FY 2009 and FY 2010 Program Budgets.” Georgia Department of Community Health. http://dch.georgia.gov/vgn/images/portal/cit_1210/20/14/120952990Augustpercent2028,percent202008percent20Budgetpercent2 0Proposalspercent20forpercent20DCHpercent20Boardpercent20Considerationpercent20-percent20FINAL.pdf (accessed September 16, 2008). Szilagyi, Peter G., Jack Zwanziger, Lance E. Rodewald, Jane L. Holl, Dana B. Mukamel, Sarah Trafton, Laura Pollard Shone, Andrew W. Dick, Lynne Jarrell, and Richard F. Raubertas. “Evaluation of a State Health Insurance Program for LowIncome Children: Implications for State Child Health Insurance Programs.” Pediatrics 105 (2000): 363-370. Selden, Thomas, and Julie Hudson. “Access to Care and Utilization Among Children: Estimating the Effects of Public and Private Coverage.” Medical Care 44 (2006): 19-26. “Balanced Budget Act of 1997.” (P.L. 105-33), United States Statutes at Large. “A Snapshot of PeachCare for Kids.” The Georgia Department of Community Health. http://dch.georgia.gov/vgn/images/portal/cit_1210/35/2/70650182PeachCa re.12.2008.FINAL.pdf (accessed July 12, 2009). Horner and Morrow, “Opening Doorways.” Section 49-5-273. The Official Code of Georgia. “A Snapshot of the Georgia Department of Community Health.” The Georgia Department of Community Health. http://dch.georgia.gov/vgn/images/portal/cit_1210 /6/40/70648888DCH012009FINAL.pdf (accessed Oct. 14, 2008). “Issue Brief: PeachCare for Kids Funding.” Emory University. http://www.sph.emory.edu/WHP/documents/2007percent20Session/PeachCare_Issue.pdf (accessed Sep. 20, 2008). “Enrollment Freeze for PeachCare for Kids Lifted.” Georgia Department of Community Health. http://dch.georgia.gov/vgn/images/portal/cit_1210/37/11/86098649PRPeachCare_Enrollment_Freeze_Lift.pdf (accessed September 18, 2008). Ibid. “Issue Brief,” Emory University.
5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.
15. Summers, “Amended FY 2009 and FY 2010.” 16. Ibid. 17. Grady, April. “Medicaid Citizenship Documentation.” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress. http://aging.senate.gov/crs/medicaid14.pdf (accessed Oct. 3, 2008). 18. “Citizenship and Identity Requirements.” PeachCare for Kids. www.peachcare.org/ FAQView.aspx?displayFaqId=9 (accessed September 28, 2008). 19. “HHS Issues Citizenship Guidelines for Medicaid Eligibility.” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. http://www.cms.hhs.gov/apps/media/press/release. asp?Counter=1878 (accessed Oct. 18, 2008). 20. Ross, Donna Cohen. “New Medicaid Citizenship Documentation Requirement is Taking a Toll: States Report Enrollment is Down and Administrative Costs are Up.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. http://www.cbpp.org/2-2-07health.htm (accessed Oct. 5, 2008). 21. “HHS Issues Citizenship Guidelines.” 22. Summers, “Amended FY 2009 and FY 2010.” 23. Ross, “Health Coverage.” 24. Fairbrother, Gerry, Melinda Dutton, Deborah Bachrach, Kerry-Ann Newell, Patricia Beozang, and Rachel Cooper. “Costs of Enrolling Children in Medicaid and CHIP .” Health Affairs 23 (2004): 237-243. 25. Grady, “Medicaid Citizenship Documentation.” 26. Ibid. 27. Ross, “Health Coverage.” 28. Summers, “Amended FY 2009 and FY 2010.” 29. “HB 340-PeachCare Reductions.” Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. http://www. gbpi.org/pubs/healthcare/20070320.pdf (accessed Nov. 1, 2008). 30. “Georgia Considers How to Adapt to CHIP Funding Shortfall.” National Conference of State Legislatures. http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/shn/2007/sn486a. htm (accessed Nov. 1., 2008). 31. Ross, Diana Cohen, and Ian T. Hill. “Enrolling Eligible Children and Keeping Them Enrolled.” The Future of Children 13 (2003): 81-97. 32. Cox, Laura. “Allowing Families to Self-Report Income.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1494 (accessed July 14, 2009). 33. Ibid. 34. Horner and Morrow, “Opening Doorways.” 35. Cox, “Allowing Families.” 36. Kronebusch, Karl, and Brian Elbel. “Simplifying Children’s Medicaid and CHIP.” Health Affairs 23 (2004): 233-246. 37. Ross, “Enrolling Eligible Children.” 38. Kronebusch and Elbel, “Simplifying Children’s Medicaid.” 39. Kempe, Allison, Brenda L. Beaty, Lori A. Crane, Johan Stokstad, Jennifer Barrow, Shira Belman, and John F. Steiner. “Changes in Access, Utilization, and Quality of Care After Enrollment Into a State Child Health Insurance Plan.” Pediatrics 115 (2005): 364-371. 40. Ibid. 41. Szilagyi, “Evaluation of a State Health Insurance Program.” 42. Ross, “Enrolling Eligible Children.” 125
43. Baron, Juliane, Jessica H. Kleinmann, and Kathleen Sylvester. “Health Insurance for Children: Issues and Ideas.” The Future of Children. http://www.futureofchildren. org/usr_doc/tfoc13-1_iig.pdf (accessed Nov. 1, 2008). 44. Szilagyi, “Evaluation of a State Health Insurance Program.” 45. “Examination and Treatment for Emergency Medical Conditions and Women in Labor.” (Title 42, § 1395dd), United States Code. 46. Horner and Morrow, “Opening Doorways.” 47. Ross, “New Medicaid Citizenship Documentation Requirement.” 48. Ibid. 49. Horner and Morrow, “Opening Doorways.” 50. Szilagyi, “Evaluation of a State Health Insurance Program.” 51. “To Amend Title XXI of the Social Security Act to Extend and Improve the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and for Other Purposes.” (P.L. 111-3), United States Statutes at Large. 52. Horner and Morrow, “Opening Doorways.” 53. Ibid. 54. Ibid. 55. Ibid. 56. Szilagyi, “Evaluation of a State Health Insurance Program.” 57. “Georgia Considers,” National Conference of State Legislatures.
Andrew Burnett Harding University Andrew, a Houston, TX native, is a Spanish and International Studies major concentrating in Political Science and Economics. His major policy interests include child welfare, economic development, and anything involving Latin America. He has spent the last two summers exploring his interests by interning for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (www.ccainstitute.org) in D.C. and developing access to credit through organizing communal banks in rural mountain villages in eastern Honduras. Rocky Cole University of Georgia Rocky Cole is a junior at the University of Georgia majoring in international affairs and economics. He hopes to pursue a career as a nonproliferation analyst and has previously published articles on defense transformation, the role of special forces in counterinsurgency warfare, and dual-use nuclear technology in Iran. He is a Security Leadership Fellow at the Center for International Trade and Security and a member of the Honors Program at UGA. He currently serves as the Director of Policy at the UGA Chapter of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network. Amanda Conklin University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Amanda Conklin is a sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill and is majoring in International Studies. Amanda is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, and is involved with Student Government, Millennium Village Project, and Model United Nations on her campus. After graduation, she would like to pursue a career with the Foreign Service sector of the State Department. She has also been a guest columnist in the Mint Hill Times (07/2008). Karie Cross Harding University Karie graduated in 2009 from Harding University with majors in political science and English. She is currently a first
year master’s student at the University of Maryland, studying public policy with a specialization in international development. She hopes to work for an overseas development agency or be an international policy advisor for an NGO or government organization. Shanell Davis University of Georgia Shanell is an International Affairs major/Ecology minor and will be graduating May 2010 from the University of Georgia. Working with the Roosevelt has inspired her to continue working with policy, especially energy and environmental policy in anyway possible. Originally from Columbus, GA, she has always been interested in environmental issues. As the state of the global environment becomes more and more pressing, she has begun to work with environmental justice organizations such as GA Youth for Energy Solutions, a sub-organization of the Southern Energy Network. This is her first published article. Ellyn Echols University of Georgia Ellyn Echols is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in International Affairs. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, she’s found a wonderful home in Athens, GA and has enjoyed getting involved in the community through working with the Boys & Girls Club and local housing projects. She currently sits on the Executive Board of Roosevelt @ UGA and has written about USAID, local housing issues in Athens, and most recently counterterrorism. After graduation she plans to take a year off to work abroad and study Arabic and then pursue a Masters in Public Policy. After that, she hopes to start a career in public policy working on issues such as national security and terrorism. Jeremy Ford University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Jeremy was a Braswell Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill, major-
ing in Biology and minoring in Entrepreneurship and Chemistry. His prior publications include “Extending Prescribing Privileges to Clinical Psychologists” in the Roosevelt Institute’s 10 Ideas for Health Care and “What the Doctor Ordered: A Check Up on the Past and Future of N.C. Mental Health Care” in The Hill: Chapel Hill Political Review. Currently, he studies Neuroscience as a masters student at Tulane University and is applying to medical school. Jeremy also works in the neurorehabilitation unit at Touro Hospital in New Orleans, and he conducts GED tutoring in the outpatient unit. One day, he would like to practice psychiatry in his hometown of Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Jeff Gruber University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill A junior at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Philosophy and Economics, Jeff plans to teach English abroad and go to law school, and to eventually become a legal scholar on International Law. Originally from Temecula, CA, Jeff serves on the board of editors for LAMBDA, UNC’s LGBT magazine. He is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars; Solutions for the South is his first published work. Michael Levy Emory University Michael is currently a Junior at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, pursuing a Bachelor’s in Business Adminisration through the Goizueta Business School. He is also pursuing a second major in International Studies. Originally from Weston, Florida, Michael hopes to go into management, political, or environmental consulting. In his time at Emory, he has been awarded the 2008 Woodruff Library Undergraduate Research Award and the 2009 Emory College Language Center Hebrew Award. Amy Littleton Harding University
Amy Littleton, originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, is a sophomore at Harding University. Double majoring in Political Science and French, Amy plans on going to law school after completing her undergraduate work. Amy is a passionate advocate of international development, human rights, and enjoys keeping up on domestic policy. Amy spends her spare time reading, going to the theatre, and traveling wherever and whenever she can.
Students at the Southern Empowerment Forum Atlanta, Georgia November 2009