November 13, 2014; Salt Lake Tribune
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest “Kids Count” report, “Creating Opportunities for Families,” as cited in this article from the Salt Lake Tribune, emphasizes a “two generation approach” to keep children in poverty from becoming adults in poverty, noting that children raised in poverty have lower chances of graduating from high school or remaining consistently employed. In fact, studies show that students in low-income homes are three times more likely to drop out than those from average-income homes and nine times more likely than students from high-income homes.
The foundation reports that 142,000 Utah children ages five and younger live in poverty. Of those, 37 percent have no parent with full-time, full-year employment; 62 percent have no parent with at least a two-year associate’s degree; and 42 percent of children who are born to parents with low income will stay in a low-income socioeconomic status through adulthood.
In Utah, a program has launched that is aimed at getting families, rather than just individuals, on a path to self-sufficiency:
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“The Utah Intergenerational Poverty Mitigation Act, passed in 2012, assigns the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) to track impoverished children who are at risk of remaining in poverty as adults. That data is bringing to service providers a greater understanding of the phenomenon and how to overcome it.
“Terry Haven, deputy director of the advocacy group Voices for Utah Children, said the Annie E. Casey Foundation report reinforces the Utah program’s philosophy of ‘making sure families get what they need no matter what agency they’re dealing with.’”
The foundation’s report recommends inter-agency collaboration, aligned policies, and shared funds. Another suggestion is to use existing child, adult, and neighborhood programs to find practical pathways out of poverty for entire families.
As reported in the NPQ Newswire earlier in November, United States Census data shows a decrease of 1.9 percent of children living in poverty from 2012 to 2013. UNICEF also released a similar report, which found an increase of 2.6 million children living in poverty in the developed world between 2008 and 2012. Reports similar to that of the Annie E. Casey foundation suggest that child poverty is declining due to strong social services and government agency resources.—Erin Lamb and Jason Schneiderman