A national report finds that lifting children out of poverty means helping parents achieve a better life for themselves and their families. The stark truth unveiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation "Kids Count" report is that children who are raised in poverty are less likely to remain consistently employed as adults, or even graduate from high school. This means that they stay in a life of poverty.
The president of the foundation, Patrick McCarthy, noted that a two generation solution is needed to resolve the problem of intergenerational poverty. "For too long, our approach to poverty has focused separately on children and adults, instead of their interrelated needs."
In Utah, a pilot program has been launched which aims at enabling entire families to achieve stability and self sufficiency, not just individuals. The idea is that children can leave poverty behind if their family situation is stabilized.
According to Terry Haven, deputy director of the advocacy group Voices for Utah Children, low income workers face long hours for low pay, find that affordable child care is an obstacle, and struggle to keep food on the table for the children. Also, reliable transportation is often a problem for parents in areas where public transportation is underserved.
Recommendations by the foundation include collaboration between agencies, shared funding, and policies that are aligned. "Put common sense into common practice by structuring public systems to respond to the realities facing today’s families," it states.
The Utah program's philosophy is that every family gets what is needed, no matter which agency is in charge. Haven says that the Annie E Casey Foundation report is very much aligned with the local approach. Both advocate using existing programs for children, adults and neighborhoods so that the pathways exiting poverty are clear, practical, and attainable.