The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has released a report, Our Kids, Our Future: Solutions to Child Poverty in the U.S that provides a collection of over 20 papers that provide recommendations to significantly reduce child poverty and improve child well-being. CPAG is made up of more than two dozen national organizations including the Child Welfare League of America.
The report was unveiled during a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM). The panel comprised of Andy Stettner, Senior Fellow for the Century Foundation, Cara Baldari, Senior Policy Director of Family Economics for First Focus, Suma Setty, Research Associate for National Center for Children in Poverty at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and Eryn Hurley, Associate Legislative Director for National Association of Counties.
The panel presented some of their policy recommendations to end child poverty. Mr. Stettner presented the significant impact that child allowances have on the lives of children living in poverty especially for children under the age of six. In industrial countries, child allowances are widely used to eliminate poverty by providing families with a modest amount of cash ranging from $250-$300 per child. In the House, Representative DeLauro (D-CT) introduced H.R. 821 (The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act) building on the Child Tax Credit (CTC) success.
Reducing child poverty has been a national strategy in other countries, and the U.S. could look at other places like the United Kingdom for guidance, stated Ms. Baldari. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair committed a goal to cut poverty in ten years and eliminate it in twenty years through investments in children, increasing income for families, and other strategies. The creation and the U.K. Child Poverty Action Group pushed the national commitment and in 2010 passed the Child Poverty Act. In 2016, however, the Child Poverty Act was abolished causing the child poverty rate to rise again in the UK. Other countries like Scotland and New Zealand have passed legislation to target child poverty, and in the United States, California, Vermont, Connecticut, and Wisconsin are targeting various child poverty strategies.
Papers in the compendium include recommendations on increasing access to affordable and quality child care and early childhood education, reducing the effect of poverty on student achievement and attainment, addressing the increase in child welfare cases due to the opioid crisis, increasing families’ access to housing assistance, retooling the federal homeless assistance system, creating a universal paid family leave program, reducing the gender wage gap, addressing unique barriers faced by children of immigrants, supporting family asset building, meeting the needs of low-income children with special healthcare needs, retooling the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and more.
In their press release the coalition said,
“Child poverty in the U.S. remains high, with children experiencing poverty at a rate that is 62 percent higher than adults. Poverty is a particularly serious problem for children, who suffer negative effects for the rest of their lives after living in poverty for even a short time. Together, the policy briefs included in Our Kids, Our Future demonstrate that in order to make significant progress in reducing child poverty and addressing racial and ethnic disparities, we need a national commitment that involves coordination between federal, state, and local levels of government.”