The research is clear – when children grow up in poverty, it has long-term consequences for their future well-being, as well as that of the state. With nearly one of every three children in Washington state living in families at risk of not meeting basic needs, poverty poses a significant threat to future generations, as well as to the contributions they can make to our communities and economy.
Lawmakers can help improve the well-being of children by passing House Bill 2518, which supports a two-generation approach to family economic security (see graphic) – so that both parents and their children have the opportunity to get ahead.
Nationally, two-generation approaches – those that focus on economic success of whole families, as opposed to a focus on children or adults in silos – are gaining momentum. HB 2518 joins these national efforts by creating a results-focused, evidence-based state effort to improve child and family well-being in our state by:
- Directing state agencies across sectors – early learning, health and human services, and higher education – to create a data system to track intergenerational poverty each year;
- Creating a state commission to summarize the data in an annual report; and
- Creating a community advisory committee – made up of advocates, faith-based leaders, government representatives, and academic experts – to provide input on the data and on the creation of a long-term plan to improve intergenerational family economic security.
It is noteworthy that this legislation rightly puts a focus on results and aims to create a commission that has the power to act. We further encourage lawmakers to strengthen this bill by developing explicit goals to achieve equity for children and families of color. We also recommend that policymakers include families with low incomes in a decision-making capacity with the commission. With these additions, HB 2518 would be a strong first step at laying a foundation to create economic security for future generations of Washingtonians.
In November, the Budget & Policy Center highlighted the need for a two-generation approach to reduce child poverty in Washington state. Listen to the audio of the presentation given by the Center’s Research & Policy Director, Lori Pfingst.