Kristin Seefeldt on facing and fixing rising child poverty
A new national survey released in June shows that child poverty is on the rise, with more than 23 percent of American children living below the poverty line. This comes as the nation's economy slowly recovers, but the survey shows that post-recession effects remain evident. In 2011, 16.4 million children lived in poverty—an increase of 3 million since 2005.
During the discussion, Seefeldt pointed out the shortcomings of the government safety net: "Parts of the safety net did perform particularly well during the recession. Food stamps, for example — food stamp rolls increased, reached a lot of households, mitigated a lot of the food problems … on the other hand, we don't have a lot in place on the cash assistance side. You can use food stamps but you can't pay your water bill with it."
She also pointed out the cutbacks in funding for public school education, a traditional route to upward mobility: "Public school funding has been cut back, and that disproportionately affects kids who are low-income and who may already be in schools that are not doing all that well to begin with. ... Early childhood investments we know can really make a difference … if you are poor when you are very young, birth to age 3, those negative impacts can last and be much deeper. But yet the response to the president's call for more early childhood education, more pre-school for kids in this country has been very lukewarm."
Listen to the complete discussion at wbur.org .