Recent news has focused on the U.S. hitting its debt ceiling, which makes it harder for the federal government to meet financial obligations. The discussion often turns to whether Congress will make changes to Medicare and Social Security in response. Although the political landscape around this issue can be polarizing, one thing is certain, supporting children and families and promoting access to positive childhood experiences (PCEs) cuts across party lines. While we typically think of Medicare and Social Security as isolated issues affecting only people 65 years or older, these programs also affect children and families, especially grandparents and grandfamilies. The financial wellbeing of grandparents can contribute to the wellbeing of the whole family. Further, Medicare and Social Security affects the wellbeing of children and parents with disabilities.
In short, Medicare and Social Security impact kinship parenting, offset the high costs or limited options of childcare for working parents, and relieve overall financial stress for children and families; supporting equitable access to the Four Building Blocks of HOPE. Changing Medicare and Social Security could end up reducing access to PCEs and the important formative impact that PCEs have on lifelong health. Now that we are facing the reality of hitting the debt ceiling, there is a possibility that children and families who benefit from Medicare and Social Security could see delays in payment and even cuts to their benefits. Below are a few ways that changing Medicare and Social Security as a result of hitting the debt ceiling could impact access the Four Building Blocks of HOPE.
Four Building Blocks of HOPE
Relationships – Today, Medicare and Social Security support important intergenerational relationships with grandparents, and they support the ability for children and families with disabilities to be fully-integrated into the schools and communities they call home.
Environment – Family childcare is an important part of early care and education. Grandparents can offer a safe, stable, loving, and culturally relevant childcare option for children. Often, parents of children with disabilities have a hard time finding childcare, making the option of family child care even more important.
Engagement – Activities such as sports or music lessons are wonderful examples of social engagement, and they take time and money. When parents, including parents with disabilities, can pay for services, resources, or medications, they may be able to get their children involved in extracurricular activities.
Emotional Growth – Sharing in traditions and hearing family stories are a simple way that children gain access to emotional growth opportunities when they are spending time with grandparents.
Let your member of Congress know about how important Medicare and Social Security are to children and families by calling their Capitol Hill office:
- Give them your name and the state or organization you are calling from – This is [NAME]. I live in your district in [STATE].
- Tell them why you are calling – It is very important that you know how important Medicare and Social Security are to children and families as you are responding to hitting the debt ceiling.
- Let them know why they should listen to you – As the parent of a child with a disability, any changes to our Medicare and Social Security benefits would make it harder for me to put food on the table.
- Express that others agree with you – There are many other parents like me, who already find it difficult to find services, resources, and supports that meet the unique needs of our children.
- Make a final ask – I ask that [NAME OF OFFICIAL] not use my family as a bargaining chip because of the debt ceiling or for any other reason. Leave Medicare and Social Security alone.
- Say thank you – Thanks for your time and attention today.
* Adapted from https://www.apa.org/advocacy/guide/phone-call