ICHS Releases Priorities for 2022 Special Session
The Indiana Coalition for Human Services (ICHS) has written a letter to members and leadership of the Indiana General Assembly urging them to prioritize the best ways to support families who are struggling during the upcoming Special Session.
ICHS is a nonpartisan coalition of more than two dozen organizations that educates Indiana’s decision makers and communities on fact-based human service policy. ICHS members invest in, protect, and advocate for policies and programs that help all Hoosier families thrive.
The Coalition expressed appreciation for the earnest desire of the General Assembly to quickly help Hoosiers who are actively struggling with increased costs. Every day ICHS member organizations hear from Hoosiers who are struggling now, and have been struggling for some time, with wages too inadequate to cover the costs of food, utilities, health care, child care and other necessities. While the intention behind delivering funds into the hands of Hoosiers is a good one, in ICHS’ estimation the proposals that have been filed for this Special Session will not sufficiently accomplish that goal.
One point that ICHS agrees with are the proposed eight allowable uses for spending from the Hoosier Families First Fund. Each of these are areas of great need for Hoosier families. However, the amount of funds in the introduced legislation is not adequate to substantially improve outcomes in these areas and is simply not proportional to the level of need. ICHS also has concerns related to the structure of the Hoosier Families First Fund. The details around the fund’s implementation, application approval process, oversight, and transparency are all unclear.
ICHS instead recommends the Indiana General Assembly prioritize allotments in the following areas:
- Limit food insecurity by FSSA re-implementing SNAP Emergency Allotments
- Spend surplus dollars to increase childcare access and affordability:
- reduce or remove co-pays for families already receiving vouchers;
- expand CCDF eligibility above 127% of FPL and add slots to reduce waitlists
- Reduce utility costs by allocating surplus funds to Summer Cooling through LIHEAP
- Maintain Medicaid eligibility for hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers at risk of losing coverage following the end of the federal Public Health Emergency
- Promote housing affordability and stability by aligning recovery and surplus dollars in the state Housing Trust Fund, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and in the enforcement of habitability standards
Through their combined efforts, ICHS members regularly engage with the Hoosiers who are most affected by rising costs and disruptions to the economy. This gives the Coalition the expertise to help inform policymakers on the efficacy of choices made to help families during this crucial moment. ICHS urges the General Assembly to apply the recommendations above during this Special Session and to include the input of the human services community when crafting solutions to help Hoosiers – both now and in the future.