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More Evidence Suggests Tackling Child Poverty Best Thing to Do for Our Kids

Posted by Elena Hernandez at Jul 31, 2014 04:40 PM |
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Elena Hernandez - A recurring theme is emerging – high poverty rates and declining family economic security are hurting Washington state’s kids and our economy. A new report from Child Trends is the third report in one month highlighting the importance of tackling systemic child poverty (see our post on the 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book and the 2014 Opportunity Scorecard).

Today’s report provides new state-level data illustrating the prevalence of eight adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – particularly stressful events that are strongly linked to negative outcomes later in life, such as obesity, alcoholism, and depression.

Economic hardship is the most common adverse childhood experience in Washington state, a consistent finding across all states. One out of every 4 kids have gone through repeated periods where their family found it difficult to cover costs of even the most basic needs like food or housing.  

When a quarter of our kids experience economic hardship during their childhood we cannot achieve our full potential as a state.  Developing a strategic and targeted approach to reducing poverty and removing barriers to opportunity should be a top state priority. 

Other highlights from the Washington state–specific data include:

  • Over one-third (36 percent) of children experienced one or two adverse childhood experiences at some point from birth to age 17. The more ACEs a child experiences, the more likely they are to experience negative outcomes in the future.
  • Nine percent of kids are either the victim of violence or witness violence in their neighborhoods.
  • One out of every five children (21 percent) lives with a parent or guardian that is either separated or has gone through a divorce.
  • Twelve percent of children live in a home where someone struggles with alcohol or drugs or suffers from mental illness.  In fact the prevalence of mental health related ACEs in Washington state is among the highest in the country.

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During the 2016 legislative session, the Budget & Policy Center promoted several of the common-sense policy ideas we developed for the 2015-2017 bienniumOur Legislative Agenda calls for an equitable, sustainable revenue system in addition to state investments that: promote a world-class education system; sustain a strong middle class; produce living-wage jobs, and ensure that all Washingtonians have equal opportunity to get ahead. 

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  • Policy Analyst Elena Hernandez's testimony (at the 23:23 minute mark) on the House Bill that would take a two-generation approach to preventing poverty 
  • Associate Director of Fiscal Policy Andy Nicholas's testimony (at the 1:54:09 mark) on the House bill focused on aerospace-related tax breaks
  • Research and Policy Director Lori Pfingst's House testimony (at the 9:25 mark) and Senate testimony (at the 1:44:54 mark) on the two-generation approach to poverty prevention bill 

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