by Jennifer Ly
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The crisis of child poverty has gotten even worse during the pandemic. Now the State Legislature is pushing a new plan to cut child poverty in half over the next decade.
“Poverty does not see race solely, it does not see gender, it does not see sexual orientation. It impacts all of us, which is why this policy has had bipartisan support,” said Dr. Shaun Nelms, a member of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative Steering Committee.
Anti-poverty organizations and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a piece of legislation that is aimed to help save New York’s poverty-stricken children.
“The impact of child poverty we know is very severe and it’s long-lasting and it’s especially devastating for our youngest children as they’re developing young brains and their bodies are especially sensitive to the impact and manifestation of poverty,” said Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D, 138).
Officials say more than 700,000 New York children were living in poverty before COVID-19, and the pandemic pushed an extra 325,000 more.
“Before the pandemic, one out of every two children in the city of Rochester lived in poverty,” said Larry Marc, Chief Executive Officer of The Children’s Agenda.
“Since the pandemic, 10,000 more children in Monroe County have been plunged into poverty between just March and July of last year,” Marx said.
The Childhood Poverty Reduction Act would form a council that evaluates policies and analyzes the state budget on an annual basis to provide recommendations.
“This bill provides a context for us to finally align what we know works for children and our families,” Nelms said.
Proponents of the bill want to see certain changes to policy such as minimum wage.
“Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative is focused on having the $15 an hour wage be prevalent throughout this region to provide economic stability for our families, so that’s one of the policies we want to continue to push locally,” Nelms said.
“The first step has to be passing this bill, it has to be this bill becoming law of the land,” Marx said.
The Childhood Poverty Reduction Act will be coming from the Senate to then be passed on to the governor. It is expected to reach Gov. Cuomo’s desk sometime this summer for review.
The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.