“Child poverty should scar our conscience as much as it does our children’s futures.” So said Dan Jarvis, a member of the British Parliament from the Labour Party, on Twitter last month. And indeed, child poverty is a problem not just in Britain, but worldwide. In the United States, 20% of children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, according to World Hunger. Lincoln Nehring, President and CEO of Voices for Utah Children, says that the 13% of Utah children that live in poverty is still too many, but there are effective measures we can take to help them.
Research-based Problems and Solutions
“Research is very clear,” said Nehring, that children who live in poverty are adversely affected throughout their lives, and the detriment is not just physical. Stress problems due to poverty play a huge role in children’s struggles academically, socially, and in other facets of their lives. But research is equally clear that children who receive a high-quality early education can more effectively overcome the income gap created by the poverty of their younger years. This has been the focal point of various initiatives of Voices of Utah Children’s.
His organization also supports and participates in initiatives that improve access to healthcare for children so that they can overcome the stresses of hunger and poverty, as Utah ranks 47th in the nation for children’s health insurance coverage. “We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to reach his or her potential,” he said. “The trends in this area have been encouraging as of late. There are a number of programs in our country that are helping. Supplemental security, housing assistance, food stamps, and free and reduced school lunches are really making a difference”
BYU’s Office of Civic Engagement sponsored Nehring’s lecture, part of a number of events designed to highlight the need for and benefits of civic engagement. The next event is scheduled for November 2nd, and will feature a panel discussion with Provo Mayor John Curtis, Police Chief John King, and Economic Director Scott Bowles. For more information, visit civicengagement.byu.edu.