Photo courtesy of First Focus and used with permission.
Earlier this month, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released a landmark study on child poverty that some are referring to as “the biggest report on child poverty in a decade.” It is also a great tool to building public and political will towards progress in reducing child poverty.
In 2015, I spent several months talking with staff in congressional offices about the need to seriously study child poverty. As the Vice President of Family Economics, Housing and Homelessness at the children’s advocacy group, First Focus, I knew that even in this hyper-partisan environment, studies from the National Academies are still viewed as highly credible on both sides of the political aisle and get a lot of attention as a result. When funding for this study was included in the 2016 and 2017 federal spending bills, I was thrilled.
Nearly three years later, the study confirmed what we know to be true—child poverty in the U.S. is a solvable problem and reducing it makes smart economic sense. In fact, it could save our economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
The study committee put forth several policy packages that if implemented, would cut our national child poverty rate in half within a decade. The individual policies in these packages include improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Development Care Tax Credit, increases in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the establishment of a national child allowance, expanding the housing voucher program, increasing the national minimum wage, restoring eligibility for immigrant families to access benefits, and more.
Yet one thing I have learned while working in policy advocacy is that strong data alone is not enough to make lawmakers act—they need to be held accountable.
This why I am grateful for the partnership of Save the Children Action Network and more than 20 other organizations in launching End Child Poverty U.S., a national campaign to build the public and political will to making child poverty a national priority.
Specifically, we call upon Congress and the current administration to establish a target to cut our national child poverty rate in half within a decade and eliminate it within 20 years. We know from the United Kingdom and Canada that establishing a target is an effective mechanism for holding the government accountable to making progress.
Yet we know we can’t do it alone. End Child Poverty U.S. is designed as a platform to elevate the voices of those working around the country to address child poverty.
We hope you will join us in this movement. Please follow us on Twitter at @CPAG_USA and visit www.endchildpovertyus.org for more information and to receive our updates.