Bush Administration Family Values

root - Posted on 31 December 1969

Family Values? Our Children: victims of poverty and racism

by Alex Cuff/PNN Newsbrief Editor

While the Bush administration is pushing for marriage-based welfare reform, more than one in five children in the US lives in poverty - a rate higher than any other industrialized country in the world! According to a study released by the Public Policy Institute, California’s child poverty rate is higher than two decades ago. The fact that 20 percent of California children age 5 and under are poor is linked to the growing number of immigrants trying to establish themselves here, many of whom lack a high school education.

The Institute’s findings are echoed by a study released last month by the Oakland-based research and action organization, Children Now. The annual survey found that despite California’s wealth (the state’s median income is ranked in the top third), the state lagged behind the rest of the nation in providing children with education, health care and economic security. The study found three outcomes: families’ need for affordable quality child care and preschool is not met; families’ are in poverty due to the lack of available living wage jobs; racial discrimination is a contributing factor to the disproportionate access to healthcare and education across racial groups.

“California has far more first-generation immigration families than the rest of the country,” said Deborah Reed, an economist at the San Francisco-based Public Policy Institute. Though Latino parents may have lower levels of education, Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, director of the Bay Area Hispano Institute for Advancement, says she sees a lot of adults continuing their schooling and trying to expand their children’s opportunities. “Many parents are going to GED courses, citizenship classes and ESL classes. There are working-class parents who have been working very hard, and they’ve managed to put their children through college. I’m the product of parents who didn’t complete the 5th grade.”

“We know that all young children are likely to thrive if their parents’ nurturing is complemented by timely and preventive health care, a quality child care setting, sufficient food, shelter and other basic necessities as well as safe environments in which to play and grow,” said Amy Domingues-Arms, vice president of Children Now. “Most of these families are working, but there often aren’t jobs that pay enough for parents to support their families.”

“People with higher educations tend to make more money, but education also relates to other indicators such as books or computers in the home. And it indicates what type of support children will have in deciding to finish high school and go to college” said Reed. Child poverty rates vary widely across the state, the Public Policy Institute found, ranging from 37 percent in the San Joaquin Valley to 9 percent in the Bay Area. “Rather than indicating that the Bay Area economy works great for people or that we have great programs that keep people out of poverty, the statistics indicate that poor people can’t afford to live here,” said Reed.


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