Legislative Update: Two USDA Programs Help Kids Get Food Through Summer

Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a nationwide extension of a program that has been helping to feed families. Local partners – such as schools and nonprofit organizations – have been serving meals to kids during coronavirus school closures. These partners will be able to continue serving free meals to all children through August 31. This extension is for a waiver of  area eligibility, allowing all children in all areas to receive free meals. Typically, USDA-funded summer meals sites are only for low-income areas. The nearest location to Hazel Wolf with this service is Olympic Hills elementary school at 13018 20th Ave NE.

In addition, a new USDA program called Pandemic-EBT provides food-purchasing benefits, equal to the value of school meals, to households with children who would qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school based on household income. To see if this can help your family, call the Lake City customer service center at 206-684-7526 or visit https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/community-services-offices/basic-food

Families can also use Meals for Kids, an interactive finder with more than 60,000 sites to find free meals for children in their area.

Legislative Update, Call to Action

Federal Rule Change: School and Summer Meals

The USDA is trying to change rules about who can access free or reduced-price school meals. This would be especially hard on Seattle kids because our high cost of living offsets incomes, allowing some more middle-income families to get subsidized school meals.

Additionally, if fewer kids in a school qualify for subsidized meals, the school can lose its Title 1 status. That means a major loss of funding and supports that help reduce class sizes and provide wrap-around services. In our neighborhood, Olympic Hills and Northgate Elementary schools currently qualify for Title 1.

Technically, a comment period on a proposed rule is not a voting exercise. However, hearing from a large group of parents can make a difference. Submitting unique comments is better than form letters, for those who can send something personal. In addition to the harm this would cause locally, here are some key points:

·  The Regulatory Impact Analysis failed to include the rule’s impact on the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program

·  The draft rule fails to analyze long-term impacts and associated costs, including potential for reduced high school graduation rates, adult earnings, and community health impacts

·  The draft rule fails to account for impacts to Title 1 schools in high-cost areas. Loss of Title 1 funding and supports could be catastrophic to the educational objectives set by Department of Education for these schools.

The reforms were announced on January 17, 2020. For additional details about these proposals, see: School Meals Reform FactsheetSummer Meals Reform Factsheet and USDA Sets the Record Straight on Proposed School Meals Flexibilities.

The comment period will be extended 30 days and ends April 22, 2020. This extension will allow schools, state agencies, stakeholders, and others who are working tirelessly to ensure children have food to eat while schools are closed the opportunity to provide valuable feedback. Please submit comments via regulations.gov.

State Legislative Session Closes

The Washington State legislature adjourned “sine die” on March 12. To support COVID-19 efforts, the Legislature appropriated $200 million, of which $25 million was set aside in a new unemployment account created to support employees who need these benefits during school and business closures and time off to care for themselves or affected family members. On the final day of session, several amendments were adopted, including one that gives the State Board of Education the authority to grant waivers for students in the class of 2020 or before who are on track to graduate but are affected by school closures.

A pdf with a full recap from the Washington State PTA on education-related budget and legislative items is here

Support and Resources for Hazel Wolf Families During COVID-19 Closure

Below is a list of immediate support resources for Hazel Wolf families during the COVID-19 school closure:

  1. For help with basic food needs, medicine for sick children, and basic utilities contact Principal Debbie Nelsen directly at dnelsen@seattleschools.org
  2. Ongoing support with groceries contact PTSA Tracy Buckingham at familysupport@hazelwolfk8.org
  3. School sites with meals for all students 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are 26 meal sites total. These sites will be a hub for resources. The three closest to Hazel Wolf:
    • Olympic Hills Elementary School, 13018 20th Ave NE. Enter/Exit through door near the southwest corner of building facing NE 130th Street drive-up area.
    • Eckstein Middle School, 3003 NE 75th St. Enter/Exit from courtyard area near portables through cafeteria doors on east side of building.
    • Nathan Hale High School, 10750 30th Ave NE. Enter/Exit through main entrance door on west side of building facing 30th Ave. Cafeteria will be down the hall on the right.
  4. Financial Resources for Washington Residents Impacted by COVID-19: https://dfi.wa.gov/coronavirus-financial-resources
  5. Seattle Public Schools Family Resources and updates: For written translations of the Seattle Public Schools webpage, use the “Select Language” drop down feature found on the upper right corner. https://www.seattleschools.org/district/calendars/news/what_s_new/coronavirus_update/resources
  6. King County info about the coronavirus: https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/communicable-diseases/disease-control/novel-coronavirus.aspx
  7. Free two months of internet: Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Internet Essentials will increase speeds from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 for all customers in response to emergency measures associated with Coronavirus (COVID-19). This speed increase will happen automatically – no action is required by customers. In addition, new customers will receive two months of free service. https://www.internetessentials.com/  
  8. City of Seattle utility discount program: Customers financially impacted by COVID-19 are urged to set up payment plans with either Seattle City Light or Seattle Public Utilities by calling 206-684-3000 or sending an email 24/7. https://www.seattle.gov/humanservices/services-and-programs/affordability-and-livability/utility-discount-program
  9. Mayor stops evictions (temporarily): Mayor Durkan signed an emergency order: temporary moratorium on residential evictions, to keep Seattle families from losing their homes as a result of impacts from coronavirus. This begins immediately in the City of Seattle for any residential eviction action related to the non-payment of rent. Tenants required to continue pay their rent if they are able and should work with their landlords on payment plans if they are experiencing financial hardship. 
  10. Health insurance (those without insurance): Washington State Health Benefit Exchange offers limited-time special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance.   The special enrollment period runs through April 8 and will allow uninsured individuals 30 days to enroll in health insurance coverage through Washington Heathplanfinder. Until April 8, individuals seeking a special enrollment must contact the Customer Support Center between 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 1-855-627-9604, or a local certified broker or navigator. https://www.wahbexchange.org/new-customers/who-can-sign-up/special-enrollment-period
  11. Educational Programming on SPS TV: Starting Monday, March 23, Seattle Public Schools will be providing educational programming on SPS TV. These videos will feature Seattle Public Schools educators in short segments to support optional learning in a variety of subjects and grade levels. We will also be offering aligned, printed materials at school lunch distribution sites for families who do not have access to TV or internet. https://www.seattleschools.org/district/calendars/news/what_s_new/coronavirus_update/resources/sps_tv
  12. Childcare: Seattle Public Schools is partnering with our five of our child care partners who operate at up to 12 Seattle school sites to re-open their child care spaces next week: https://www.seattleschools.org/district/calendars/news/what_s_new/coronavirus_update/resources/child_care. The University YMCA also will run a special day camp during school closures: https://hazelwolfk8.org/2020/03/17/registration-open-special-ymca-program-starts-wednesday-march-18/

This information also is available in Amharic, Tigrinya and Spanish.

Parents Supporting Parents – Monday, Dec. 2, 7pm

Parents Supporting Parents – How did parent-teacher conferences go? Does your child need some extra help and support at school? Join us on Monday, December 2 to learn more about accommodations, 504s, and IEPs or just to ask questions and share resources around other challenges. The meeting starts at 7:00pm and will be in the Hazel Wolf library. Email elliskatherinem@gmail.com with questions. Hope to see you there!

Hazel Wolf Annual Coat Drive

This Fall season Hazel Wolf K-8 will hold its 11th annual coat drive!

Click to read this information in Spanish.

Is your child in need of a new winter coat this season? If you would like your child to receive a NEW winter coat with assistance from the coat drive, please fill out the “Coat Request Form” and return the completed form by Friday October 25th. Forms may be returned to your child’s teacher or to the Front Office (in the Coat Request Form return box located near the nurse’s office door). All information will be kept confidential.

Coat Request Forms are available for download below and printed forms are available in the Front Office.

Are you able to sponsor a child and be a coat donor? If you are able to sponsor a child, please email us at (HWcoatdrive@gmail.com) and we will send you a coat request. Please put “Coat Drive” in the subject line of the email. (To make coat shopping easy, we will include size, color preference and gender information for the request.)

The Hazel Wolf PTSA thanks you for your consideration and participation!

A reminder that the Parents Supporting Parents – Dyslexia Edition (rescheduled) meeting is tonight, March 11 at 7 p.m. in the Hazel Wolf library. The first hour will be spent sharing overall challenges and resources. In the second hour, parents will share how they’ve helped their dyslexic children learn to and enjoy reading. Come and join the conversation. Upcoming Parents Supporting Parents meeting dates include April 1 and June 3. Email elliskatherinem@gmail.com if you need childcare or have questions.

Does Your Child Have an IEP, 504, or Behavioral or Learning Challenges?

Are you trying to navigate the school system and find the right resources? Do you feel like you’re the only one? Well, you’re not. Come to our first Hazel Wolf parent-run parent-support meeting on Monday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hazel Wolf library to learn and share your own resources, tips, and tricks. Plan to bring your knowledge and questions but to leave your judgments at home. There will be a volunteer parent facilitator to help keep things on track and on topic. Please RSVP to elliskatherinem@gmail.com. Also, if you’re interested but can’t make it, let us know that too. Sadly, childcare will NOT be provided. Hope to see you there!