Nebraska Ranks First Nationally in Child Economic Well-Being
Monday, August 8, 2022
Nebraska ranks first in the nation when it comes to promoting children's economic well-being, a significant indicator under the spotlight in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's latest report on child wellness.
Just 12% of Nebraska children lived in poverty between 2016 and 2020, one of the lowest percentages in the nation, down from 17% between 2008 and 2012.
Juliet Summers, executive director of Voices for Children in Nebraska, said it is not a moment for the state to rest on its laurels.
"We really hope our policymakers take home the message that these policies supporting child well-being are good for Nebraska," Summers emphasized. "We have this great opportunity to ensure that every child in every community in our state gets to experience that Nebraska good life."
Economic stability is not shared by all of Nebraska's children. Summers pointed to separate census data, which showed more than 30% of Black children, 29% of American Indian or Alaska Native children, and 23% of Latino children are growing up in poverty. By contrast, the poverty rate among white children is just 7%.
In the last session, state lawmakers designated $336 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to qualified census tracts. Summers noted much of the funding will be allotted to North and South Omaha, neighborhoods with a long history of disinvestment and discriminatory practices including redlining, which blocked families of color from building wealth through homeownership.
"We know that we need to continue to invest directly in Black and brown neighborhoods and communities," Summers pointed out. "They've historically borne the brunt of systemic racism and loss of opportunity that flows from that, and our state's kids deserve no less."
Summers added Nebraskans should have an opportunity at the polls in November to help keep the state's child poverty rate low. If the Raise the Wage initiative makes the ballot and Nebraskans vote "yes," the minimum wage would rise to $10.50 an hour next January and to $15 an hour by 2026.
"And raising that minimum wage allows families to spend more time at home with their kids, to be better able to afford groceries, and really just leads to general family economic stability that kids benefit from," Summers asserted.
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