Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

Baldwin, Casey, Brown Take Action Against Childhood Poverty

Wisconsin’s child poverty rate ranks 21st in the nation

By - Oct 30th, 2015 11:01 am

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin, Bob Casey and Sherrod Brown introduced the Child Poverty Act, which would establish a national target to reduce the number of children living in poverty in the United States – by half in the first 10 years, and completely eliminate in 20 years.

According to bipartisan advocacy organization First Focus, in 2014, 18.1 percent of Wisconsin children under 18 were living below the poverty level. African-American children in the state are over four times more likely to face these challenges, with 49 percent living below the poverty level. Read more about child poverty in Wisconsin here.

To meet these goals, the bill charges a Federal Interagency Working Group on Reducing Child Poverty with developing a plan, including recommendations to improve the coordination and efficiency of existing initiatives as well as recommendations for new legislation required to reach the target. It also tasks the working group with monitoring progress toward the target at the federal and state levels.

“With over 18 percent of Wisconsin’s children, and nearly 50 percent of the state’s African-American children, living below the poverty level, we have a moral responsibility to take bold action,” said Senator Baldwin.  “I’m proud to lead this call to action with Senators Casey and Brown to meet the challenge of cutting child poverty in half over the next ten years. This is a problem that government cannot address alone, it is going to take a national commitment to act and solve this problem.”

“Over 500,000 children in Pennsylvania are living in poverty. This crisis not only effects individual children, but has broader societal effects including higher spending on health, increased rates of crime, and reduced rates of education attainment and higher spending on remedial education,” said Senator Casey.

“There are far too many children living in poverty both in Ohio and across our country,” said Senator Brown. “We have a duty to take steps to eradicate child poverty and seek strategies and develop initiatives that will help ensure the healthy development and economic security of every child.”

The Child Poverty Reduction Act would establish a national target to reduce the number of children living in poverty in America by half in ten years and eliminate extreme child poverty (50% of the poverty threshold) in ten years and all child poverty in twenty years, as well as institute a process to identify the most effective interventions to meet this target, including:

  • Charging a Federal Interagency Working Group on Reducing Child Poverty with developing a plan, including recommendations to improve the coordination and efficiency of existing initiatives, as well as recommendations for new legislation required to reach the target;
  • Requesting the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to assist in the development of a plan by researching the societal costs of child poverty, the role of metrics in assessing the effects of child poverty, and the performance of anti-poverty programs, as well as make non-partisan recommendations on how to reduce child poverty;
  • Tasking the working group with monitoring progress toward the target at the federal and state levels

“The Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2015 is an important first step toward reaching the goal of eradicating child poverty by 2035. Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice supports this legislation and calls upon all members of Congress to pass this bill and implement its provisions as soon as possible. It is the right, moral, and just thing to do,” said Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice President

“Senator Baldwin is highlighting an issue that is in every classroom in Wisconsin and across our nation.  Poverty needs to be addressed and eliminated if we are looking at supporting our students to reach their full potential,” Kim Kohlhaas, American Federation of Teachers—Wisconsin President

“On behalf of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, and as a resident of Wisconsin, I applaud Senator Baldwin and Senator Casey for their leadership in developing a national strategy to eliminate child poverty in the United States.  One in five children in America are living in poverty and this is a national crisis. This bill keeps faith with our sacred trust recently echoed by Pope Francis to protect the vulnerable, particularly children: ‘Those who have the task of governing are responsible for children…When it comes to children, in every case, there should be no utterance of ‘After all, we are not a charity’, or ‘we’re sorry but we can’t do anything.’ These words do not count when it comes to children,’” said Sister LouAnne Willette, OP, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

Creating a national target to cut child poverty is not unprecedented. In 1999, the United Kingdom established a national child poverty target and measured in U.S. terms, the UK’s Child Poverty Target and resulting policy changes cut Britain’s child poverty rate by 50 percent during the effort’s first decade (1999-2009). By contrast, the U.S. child poverty rate increased by over 20 percent between 2000 and 2013.

In Wisconsin, the Child Poverty Act has been endorsed by: Wisconsin Board of Church & Society of the United Methodist Church, Howe Community Resource Center, Still Point Zen Center, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – Wisconsin

Learn more about the Child Poverty Act here.

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