Poverty Today is the Polio of the 1950s

 

Clasp.org discusses the polio epidemic of the 1950s that crippled tens of thousands of people every year – and was eliminated by 1979 due to a massive public health effort. The post also highlights that the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) Task Force on Childhood Poverty recently declared that childhood poverty is on par with polio in the 1950s as the most important problem facing American children today.

While the APA Task Force acknowledges that there is no single cure for poverty, it presents four areas for policy work to address the issue. This is in addition to existing support of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP):

  • Raising children out of poverty, through raising the minimum wage, increasing access to quality jobs, and improving income and work supports such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit.
  • Providing high quality early childhood programs and high quality affordable child care to poor families, in order to both support early childhood development for all children and allow low-income parents to have access to reliable quality child care while they work.
  • Supporting place-based initiatives, in recognition that poverty and its ill effects are not evenly distributed among communities. APA recognizes that neighborhood characteristics such as poverty, crime, housing characteristics and lack of employment opportunities can all have negative impacts on poor children’s health and well-being.
  • Promoting a White House Conference on Children and Youth to draw attention to the needs of this population and build public support for further investments.

For more information from CLASP.

Many of the Task Force priorities have Kentucky implications. For example, Kentucky officials can enact a state EITC and tackle early childhood programs on a state level. Governor Beshear could also call a Governor’s Conference on Children and Youth to look at the needs of children in Kentucky. Like eradicating polio, eliminating poverty is going to take a focused, long-term, multifaceted strategy to fix a problem that has affected generations of families.

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