by Dan Schrack
Rochester, N.Y. — Carrying baggage into a situation where focus is paramount can make even the simplest of tasks a challenge.
Such is the case for nearly half the children in Rochester who are all living at or below the federal poverty line.
“Poverty is a very simple issue. It’s a lack of resources. So additional resources to families is the best way to alleviate this problem,” explains Eamonn Scanlon, education policy director for The Children’s Agenda.
Billions of dollars in educational and child care funding are on the line ahead of the state budget deadline. That funding could change the outcome for thousands of students.
Scanlon says poverty is not a one-to-one predictor of life outcomes, but notes a direct link between household income and educational success.
In January, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed nearly a billion-and-a-half dollars in additional child care supports – funding that could cut one of the largest financial burdens families face, allowing them to work, pay utilities, and put food on the table.
But often times, Scanlon says, that help comes with bureaucratic constraints.
“Some of the stress of being in poverty is just signing up and managing all of the different programs and supports that are out there,” he says.
Easier access to resources – or direct financial support – have the potential to be more efficient and sufficient. According to a Columbia University study, the Child Tax Credit kept 3.7 million children out of poverty. Since the program ended last December, the child poverty rate increased nearly 5 percentage points nationally.
“The Child Tax Credit was the big part of the federal rescue plan – the stimulus funds – and the discontinuance of that is going to be a real burden for families,” Scanlon says.
With so many factors at play, a silver bullet solution is unlikely anytime soon. Scanlon recommends families in need take careful advantage of every possible resource available.
Crisis in the Classroom is an occasional series in which 13WHAM looks at challenges being faced in education.
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.