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Easing NY Poverty: A Tale of Two Generations?

PHOTO: A 'two-generation' approach to lifting New York's children out of poverty is called for in a new report setting forth recommendations for states. Photo credit: Wikipedia.
PHOTO: A 'two-generation' approach to lifting New York's children out of poverty is called for in a new report setting forth recommendations for states. Photo credit: Wikipedia.
November 12, 2014

NEW YORK - If the State of New York wants to lift its children out of poverty it should put its focus on their parents at the same time, according to a new Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT policy report.

The report says a 'two-generation' approach is needed to give families tools to get on a track to better economic opportunities. It's an approach Dr. Sheila Smith, director of Early Childhood of Columbia University's National Center for Children in Poverty, says policymakers on both sides of the aisle should get behind, despite last week's election returns.

"Doing the right thing for and by young children has now become a bipartisan issue," says Smith.

New York helps low-income working families, says Smith, with a refundable earned income tax credit, but does them no favors by not keeping child care co-payments below 10 percent of a family's income. The report says nearly half of the nation's young children are growing up in lower-income households.

Some of the other obstacles low-income working families face include inflexible and unpredictable jobs. Smith says too many of them don't offer high enough wages to support a family.

"We need to use multiple policies to help families move out of poverty and certainly, for working poor families a higher minimum wage is critical," she says.

Although the two-generation approach isn't brand new, Smith says, it took off in the 1990s when pressure was on for welfare reform, its time has come.

"On both sides the set of supports for children and the set of supports for parents we know more than we did 15 and 20 years ago," Smith says. "So there is a lot more optimism."

She says New York's minimum wage is not sufficient to lift a family with a full-time working parent and two children above the poverty line.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY