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New Report: Poverty Greatest Threat to Children’s Well-Being

June 30, 2009

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – They say the research is clear, and it shows that poverty is the single greatest threat to a child's well-being. The executive director of South Dakota Voices for Children, Dr. Susan Randall, says the findings in their new report titled "A Common Good" were developed in late 2008 at a children's summit on poverty. She says key stakeholders from across the state identified five areas where the risks for children were the greatest, and looked at what could be done to help South Dakota families out of poverty.

"The five cornerstones identified at our summit to address the challenges of children in poverty are: Securing economic security for the child and the family; addressing the need for safe, affordable housing; addressing the need for health care, healthy nutrition; certainly the importance of education for children; and, finally, the cornerstone that we'll be working on is building public will."

Randall says their first step is making South Dakota families and individuals aware that help is available at the state level. Her organization has partnered with a Minnesota group to launch a new Web site called "Bridge to Benefits." Marc Kimball, communications director for the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, says it includes links to state programs that help low-income families.

"These are such things as health coverage, food assistance, energy assistance, tax credits. These things have a real impact on lifting a family out of poverty, but a lot of times people just don't know that they're available."

Kimball says the Web site is free, anonymous and accessible at
www2.bridgetobenefits.org. He says it will help families determine their eligibility for state programs as well as the how and where of the ways they can apply.

Dr. Susan Randall of South Dakota Voices for Children says that 85 percent of brain development occurs during the early years of life, when issues can develop that contribute to behavioral, health, social and emotional problems. She says improving the early years of children's lives is good public policy.

David Law, Public News Service - SD