The only thing trickling down is the pain
Most people would agree that all children, regardless of their social and economic background, deserve the same opportunities to succeed in life. For a growing number of Washington’s children those opportunities are slipping away. Without adequate public investment the chances of our children succeeding in life will continue to diminish.
According to a new report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a growing number of children in Washington are experiencing the impact of parental unemployment and foreclosure in the wake of the recession:
- One in eight kids (169,000) in Washington state has at least one parent experiencing unemployment. That marks an increase of 90,000 since the beginning of the recession in 2007.
- The number of Washington kids living in homes subject to foreclosure since 2007 totals 68,000.
The research is clear – children who grow up in families experiencing the economic impact of unemployment and foreclosure are less likely to navigate life’s challenges and achieve future success. The younger they are and the longer they are exposed to economic hardship, the more opportunities diminish and the higher the risk of failure.
Overwhelming evidence suggests that state investments to help children and families remain economically secure in the wake of the recession would be a wise investment in our children’s – and our own – future.
Too bad Washington is doing exactly the opposite. The most recent budget passed in our state significantly undermines our children’s opportunities for success in life by making cuts like the following (see report for list of all cuts):
- Funding to reduce class sizes and improve learning opportunities in grades K-4 was eliminated, compromising the quality of education our children receive (a modest amount of funding was provided to reduce class sizes in K-3 high-poverty schools);
- Eligibility for Working Connections Child Care was reduced from 200 percent of the federal poverty line to 175 percent, making it harder for thousands of families to find child care so they can work;
- Funding for higher education was cut so severely that tuition at Washington’s four-year institutions and community and technical colleges increased 11 percent to 16 percent, reducing affordability;
- Pregnancy support for at-risk mothers to ensure positive birth outcomes was reduced by 30 percent.
Congress and many states continue to pass legislation that disproportionately benefits the super-rich under the myth that investing in them will trickle down to the rest of us. Most economists agree that this is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. We need to make stronger investments in all our children and families at the federal and state level if we want to put our country on a path to prosperity. Until federal and state governments decide to make those investments, the only thing trickling down will be the pain.