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Dual Approach Recommended for Family Stability in Idaho

PHOTO: High-quality, affordable preschool for low-income working families while also providing access to job training is among the recommendations in a new report on reducing child poverty. Photo courtesy of EPA.
PHOTO: High-quality, affordable preschool for low-income working families while also providing access to job training is among the recommendations in a new report on reducing child poverty. Photo courtesy of EPA.
November 12, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - It takes a family approach to lift kids out of poverty. That's the premise of a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that recommends coordination between programs - public, nonprofit and private - that focus on high-quality early childhood education, as well as job quality, training and education for parents.

LeAnn Simmons, executive director with Idaho Voices for Children, says programs tend to be fragmented, focusing on just children or just their parents.

"Children don't come in a vacuum, they come in a family," Simmons says. "It's important we strengthen families; that families have the ability to earn a living."

Simmons says keep in mind a child's success in life is strongly tied to family stability. Idaho has the fourth-highest percentage of families with young children who are low-income, at 53 percent. The state's poverty rate for families where resident parents are working is the second-highest in the country; Simmons attributes that to the state's low wages.

She says high-quality, affordable child care is often the biggest stumbling block to a family's ability to move up the career ladder.

"That's offering the opportunity for that family to work," says Simmons. "But the child should also be able to be in high-quality child care; being able to meet both needs at the same time."

Recommendations in the report take a two-generation approach to address the three major challenges facing low-income working families: inflexible and unpredictable low-wage jobs, high stress levels for parents and children, and a lack of access to affordable, high-quality child care.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID