New National Report Reinforces Recommendations of Utah Commission Addressing Intergenerational Poverty
Salt Lake City – In Utah, 142,000 children ages five and under are low-income, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF): Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach. The KIDS COUNT® report states that “a child raised in poverty is more likely to become an adult living in poverty—less likely to graduate from high school or remain consistently employed. Forty-two percent of children born to parents at the bottom of the income ladder stay there.”
Utah lawmakers initiated a local effort to address intergenerational poverty by passing the Intergenerational Poverty Mitigation Act with bipartisan support in 2012. Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of AECF, says that the intergenerational problem of poverty needs two-generation solutions. “For too long, our approach to poverty has focused separately on children and adults, instead of their interrelated needs,” said McCarthy.
The three strategies for a coordinated, two-generation approach to ending poverty outlined by AECF align well with the Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission’s 2014 recommendations:
AECF Recommendation 1: Create policies that equip parents and children with the income, tools and skills they need to succeed — as a family and as individuals. Both the Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission and AECF encourage agencies to ensure that quality child care and education are accessible for children while their parents are employed or participating in job training programs. Both emphasize the importance of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The Commission recommends efforts to ensure that parents apply for the credit and the AECF proposes expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to noncustodial parents, better facilitating child support. AECF also recommends policies that give parents more flexibility at work, such as paid time off—a policy change that would facilitate the Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission’s goal to support parents. AECF
Recommendation 2: Put common sense into common practice by structuring public systems to respond to the realities facing today’s families. AECF recommends interagency collaboration, aligned policies and shared innovation funds. The Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission has made several such recommendations for Utah, such as coordinated case management, a strategic communication plan across agencies relevant to intergenerational poverty and a comprehensive intergenerational poverty data tracking system. Utah agencies are already working on coordination of case management for families receiving services across programs. One pilot launched by Utah’s Department of Workforce Services called, “Next Generation Kids” is a two-generation approach for families participating in the state’s Family Employment Program. The pilot brings together all those serving the needs of families from child care providers, schools, job training and adult education programs while also collaborating with other state agencies to ensure these families are on the path toward self-sufficiency. AECF
Recommendation 3: Use existing child, adult and neighborhood programs and platforms to build evidence for practical pathways out of poverty for entire families. Both the Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission and AECF recommend quality child care programs, preschool, and K-12 education, and AECF adds that these quality programs could partner with programs for their parents, connecting them to financial coaching, job-readiness assistance, education and other tools to achieve financial stability.
Linking child programs to adult education and job programs is vital because 62% of the 103,000 Utah low-income families with children age eight and under do not include a parent with at least an associate degree and 37% of these families do not include a parent with full-time, year-round employment.
Voices for Utah Children will host a discussion of policy makers and family advocates about applying two-generation strategies in Utah on November 12.
For more information, see the complete reports:
Creating Opportunities for Families: A Two Generation Report
Utah’s Third Annual Report on Intergenerational Poverty, Welfare Dependency and the Use of Public Assistance and Utah Intergenerational Welfare Reform Commission Annual Report 2014