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Nearly 4 in 10 WA Families “Struggle” in Final Week of Budget

June 25, 2013

SEATTLE - The deadline nears for state lawmakers to decide budget priorities, and a new national report finds that 38 percent of families in Washington state continue to struggle to make ends meet.

According to Pat Dickason, action chair for the Washington State League of Women Voters, the divide between the haves and have-nots is growing nationwide, and the 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book numbers show that same pattern is true for the state of Washington.

"Four out of every ten kids live in families that struggle to meet basic needs; about one in three of students can't read proficiently by the end of third grade," she pointed out. "These are not good numbers."

Washington stayed even in the latest report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, at 28th in the nation for child well-being. State lawmakers have until the end of this week to compromise on budget priorities.

Dickason said the report happens to arrive just as state legislators are making crucial decisions that will affect children all across the state.

"Certainly in Washington state, we are down to the wire this week," she declared. "The Operating Budget impacts how many children are eligible to receive subsidized children care, eligible to receive medical care."

While the state is just a little below overage overall when it comes to providing for children's needs, Dickason said, conditions are far worse for children of color.

"According to this report, Latino children, African-American, American Indian, Alaskan Native children have much higher rates of struggle to meet the basic needs," she said.

Dickason said lawmakers have to reconcile a budget gap of about $400 million by June 30, but there also are major differences in how the budgets fund state services.

The full national KIDS COUNT report is at datacenter.kidscount.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA