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See Something, Say Something: Social Media’s Role in Protecting Children

Blog-headline
Mary Coogan, Esq.,
ACNJ Vice President

Opinion Piece
By Mary Coogan, Esq.
ACNJ Vice President

The horrific murder of 19 children in Texas is something no parent or community should have to suffer. The immediate reaction was terror, followed by the expected political rhetoric. We have heard this all before without resolution. Hopefully, this time will be different, with thoughtful people engaging in a real conversation concerning sensible gun laws without the finger-pointing.

In the meantime, what else might we consider doing? In light of all the posts on social media, one thing that comes to mind is how to use social media to save lives. News reports tell us that the latest shooter posted a photo of two AR15-style rifles to an Instagram account just three days before the massacre at Robb Elementary School, and direct messages were sent on Facebook just before the shooting. According to CNN reporters, the shooter of ten people at the Tops grocery store earlier this month also posted plans to social media before the shooting. The Parkland School shooter posted his desire to “shoot people with my AR-15” on social media months before he shot students at the school. News articles confirm that a YouTube comment saying, “I'm going to be a professional school shooter,” was reported to the FBI. Clearly, these individuals were a known dangerous risk looking for attention.

There have been endless articles and discussions among reporters and pundits about whether social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and others, have the right to terminate users based upon their posts. Without weighing in on that “free speech” debate, I want to focus on the fact that these social media platforms use algorithms to remove users. Many, if not all, social media platforms use algorithms to help maintain order and assist in ranking search results and advertisements. So why can’t Facebook and other social media platforms develop an algorithm that identifies a potential mass murderer by their post(s) advertising their intention to shoot up a school or to kill some people at a store? Once a potential shooter is identified, local school counselors and protective services could be notified immediately.

One might argue that this notification would trample the poster’s rights and liberties. While the right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court has held that several of the Amendments create this right to privacy, or what the Court referred to in Katz v United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967) as a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” However, when it comes to social media, that right to privacy “is almost non-existent”. Courts have concluded that something one voluntarily posts to Facebook no longer carries a reasonable expectation of privacy. Thus, a potential killer gives up their right to privacy by sharing their intentions to kill on social media.

While initially private enterprises, several social media platforms have become what lawyers and economists often call “The Commons.” Much like other Commons such as utilities, it might be appropriate to regulate them in this matter.

If they argue against it, claiming that servers are “private property,” maybe they can work on an effective protocol. If not, Congress should pass a law to authorize these protocols and compel social media platforms to identify and notify authorities of potential shooters.

The first amendment gives us the right to post, but that post has consequences. A person advertising their intention to commit murder can and should be stopped. As far as I know, it is a rare individual who supports the shooting of children.

 

Updated Kinship Legal Guardian (KLG) Guide Released!

Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG) may be an option for certain Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) cases when the child has been under a resource parent's care for a long time, and it is unlikely that the child will be able to be safely reunited with their parent. Learn about KLG and what it entails in our updated guide. Note, this guide is offered as part of ACNJ's KidLaw Resource Center. Learn more about KidLaw at https://acnj.org/kidlaw

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Beneficiarios de NJ FamilyCare: ¡Asegúrese que su seguro médico continúe sin interrupción!

Blog-headline

Posted 6/2/2022

Alana Vega, Kids Count Coordinator

By Alana Vega
Health Policy Analyst

Desde marzo del 2020, los residentes de Nueva Jersey inscritos en NJ FamilyCare han podido mantener la cobertura, sin la tradicional redeterminación periódica, gracias a las disposiciones especificadas bajo la emergencia de salud pública nacional (PHE). NJ FamilyCare es el programa estatal de seguro médico, que abarca Medicaid y el Programa de Seguro Médico para Niños (CHIP). A medida que nos acercamos al verano, aumentan las discusiones sobre la mejor manera de prepararse para el fin eventual del PHE, que comenzará uno de los mayores esfuerzos de redeterminación que ha visto el estado.

El PHE se extendió hasta el 15 de julio del 2022, y posiblemente se extenderá otra vez hasta fines de Octubre. Sin embargo, es importante que las familias de Nueva Jersey comiencen a prepararse para cuando empiecen a relajar el PHE. Cuando finalice el PHE, los estados empezarán a determinar y reevaluar la elegibilidad de los clientes para la cobertura de Medicaid y CHIP. NJ FamilyCare comenzará a comunicarse con los beneficiarios por correo para iniciar este proceso de redeterminación.

¿Qué pueden hacer las familias para prepararse? La respuesta es sencilla: asegúrese de que NJ FamilyCare tenga la dirección actual. Después de dos años, es probable que muchas familias se hayan mudado y debido a que NJ FamilyCare no había vuelto a determinar la elegibilidad según el PHE, es posible que los registros no reflejan la información más reciente de los miembros. Para verificar y actualizar la información, las familias deben llamar a la línea del teléfono NJ FamilyCare Ambassador al 1-800-701-0710. Una vez que se verifique que la información es correcta, también deben de este pendientes de correspondencia que venga de NJ FamilyCare en los próximos meses. Es importante que los beneficiarios respondan con prontitud a estos correos para mantener la cobertura de salud.

Los proveedores de salud y las organizaciones comunitarias también pueden desempeñar un papel importante en este proceso. Como mensajeros de confianza que a menudo mantienen contacto regular con las familias, los proveedores pueden recordarle a los clientes cubiertos por NJ FamilyCare a que actualicen su información de contacto. Recibir estos mensajes en múltiples frentes ayudará a reducir las interrupciones en el seguro médico para aquellos que califican para este seguro médico estatal.

Actualmente, para ser elegible para los beneficios de NJ FamilyCare, los niños menores de 19 años deben vivir en hogares con ingresos de hasta el 355% de los requisitos federales de pobreza, o aproximadamente $8,210 por mes o $98,520 por año para una familia de cuatro. Las personas embarazadas y los adultos de 19 a 64 años tienen diferentes requisitos de elegibilidad. Para obtener más información, visite el sitio web de NJ FamilyCare. Una vez que comience el proceso de redeterminación, las familias que ganan más que el requisito de ingresos deben consultar el Mercado Oficial de Seguros Médicos de Nueva Jersey, GetCoveredNJ, para obtener opciones adicionales.

Evitar que los niños de Nueva Jersey experimenten interrupciones en la cobertura es fundamental para su salud y seguridad a largo plazo. El 21 de abril del 2022, Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) anunciaron una caída de un punto porcentual en la tasa nacional de niños de jardín de infantes que cumplieron con los requisitos del programa de vacunación durante el año escolar 2020-21. Aunque pequeña, parte de esta disminución puede estar relacionada con el cambio a la educación virtual y los servicios remotos debido al COVID-19. El acceso a la atención médica preventiva es un componente crucial de la salud infantil en general, y la cobertura continua a través de NJ FamilyCare para niños elegibles es un primer paso necesario para alentar a las familias a volver a participar en la atención médica preventiva.

NJ FamilyCare Recipients: Make Sure your Health Insurance is Not Interrupted!

Blog-headline

Posted 6/2/2022

Alana Vega, Kids Count Coordinator

By Alana Vega
Health Policy Analyst

 

Since March 2020, New Jersey residents enrolled in NJ FamilyCare have been able to maintain coverage, without traditional redetermination periods, thanks to the provisions specified under the nationwide public health emergency (PHE). NJ FamilyCare is the state health insurance program, which encompasses Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). As we approach the summertime, there are increasing discussions concerning how best to prepare for the eventual end of the PHE, which will begin one of the largest redetermination efforts the state has seen. 

The PHE has been extended beyond July 15, 2022, and could potentially last through early October. Regardless, it is important that families across New Jersey begin to prepare themselves for what is sometimes referred to as the “unwinding” of the PHE. When the PHE does end, states will begin to redetermine and reassess client eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries. NJ FamilyCare will begin to contact enrollees via mail to begin this redetermination process.

What can families do to prepare? The answer is relatively straightforward--make sure that NJ FamilyCare has the most current address. After two years, many families have likely moved, and because NJ FamilyCare has not had to redetermine eligibility under the PHE, records may not reflect the most current member information. To verify and/or update any information, families should contact the NJ FamilyCare Ambassador line at 1-800-701-0710. Once information is verified as correct, households should also be on the lookout for mail from NJ FamilyCare after the end of the public health emergency is announced. It is important that households respond promptly to mailings from NJ FamilyCare in order to maintain health coverage. 

Health providers and community-based organizations can also play an important role in this process. As trusted messengers who often maintain regular contact with families, providers can remind clients covered by NJ FamilyCare to update their contact information. Hearing these messages on multiple fronts will help reduce disruptions in health insurance for those who qualify for this state health insurance.

Currently, in order to be eligible for NJ FamilyCare benefits, children under age 19 must live in households with incomes up to 355% of the federal poverty guidelines, or roughly $8,210 per month or $98,520 annually for a family of four. Pregnant people and adults ages 19-64 have different eligibility requirements. For more information, visit NJ FamilyCare’s website. Once the redetermination process begins, families who may be above income qualifications should check New Jersey’s Official Health Insurance Marketplace, GetCoveredNJ, for additional insurance options.

Preventing New Jersey’s children from experiencing disruptions in health care coverage is critical for their long term health and safety. On April 21, 2022, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced a one percentage point drop in the national rate of kindergartners meeting vaccination schedule requirements during the 2020-21 school year. While this drop may seem small, it is believed that some of this decline is tied to the shift to virtual schooling and remote services due to COVID-19. Access to well-child visits is a crucial component of overall child health and continued coverage through NJ FamilyCare for eligible children is a necessary first step to encourage families to re-engage with preventive health care.

Next Steps: Package of Child Care Bills Introduced in Assembly

Last week, a package of child care bills was introduced in the Assembly that aligned with those introduced in the Senate by Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz in early May. These bills address child care access and affordability, taking an important step forward to reimagine child care in New Jersey. The bills include:

  • A4178/S2475: Establishes a Department of Early Childhood (Primary Sponsor: Assemblywoman Lopez)
  • A4179/S2476: Establishes Thriving by Three competitive grant program for infant and toddler child care programs (Primary Sponsor: Speaker Coughlin)
  • A4175/S2477: Requires eligible school districts to provide the majority of preschool pupil placements at licensed child care provider programs that are collaborating with the district to implement state-funded preschool (Primary Sponsor: Assemblywoman Timberlake)
  • A4177/S2478: Extends the duration of the law requiring certain providers receiving subsidy payments for child care services to continue receiving payments based on enrollment and not attendance (Primary Sponsor: Assemblywoman Mosquera)
  • A252/S2479: Provides a temporary corporation business tax and gross income tax credits for certain employer-provided child care expenditures (Primary Sponsor: Assemblywoman Munoz)
  • A4176/S2480: Extends child care subsidies to families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level (Primary Sponsor: Assemblywoman Park)

Two child care bills from the last legislative session were re-introduced this session:

  • A1469/S1099: Allows gross income tax credit for certain child care staff and registered family day care providers
  • A1471/S2465: Requires the Department of Human Services to establish a quality-based reimbursement system for registered family day care providers participating in Grow NJ Kids, New Jersey's Quality Rating and Improvement System

Stay tuned! ACNJ will provide updates as additional information on each of the bills becomes available. For further information, contact Cynthia Rice at crice@acnj.org.

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