December 15, 2017

A Campaign to End Child Poverty in Wisconsin

Kids Forward Board President, Nancy Heykes, delivered the following remarks at the End Child Poverty Campaign launch in Menasha, WI on December 14, 217. For more information about the campaign and to sign on to the campaign, please visit 

“Kids Forward (formerly the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families) stands up for kids and has a vision of Wisconsin where every child thrives.  We use research and a community informed approach to advocate for effective solutions that break down barriers to success for every child, every family and every community.

In addition to our name – Wisconsin’s State motto – Forward – suggests a place where every child can thrive.  Unfortunately, too many children face economic barriers to achieving their full potential.  Too many Wisconsin children, over 200,000, live in poverty.

We know that the long term impacts on children growing up in poverty are pernicious.  We know that children who live in poverty are at greater risk of education challenges, health problems, lower future earnings and shortened life expectancy.

Reducing childhood poverty is an issue Kids Forward has worked on throughout our 136 year history.  In fact, many of you may be aware of a previous poverty reduction effort we were part of, named Vision 2020.  As a part of that campaign, in 2009/10 here in in the Fox Cities, former Kids Forward Board President Marcia Engen and others, including Jon Stellmacher, helped lead a community-wide campaign for poverty elimination called Project Promise.

And that is why we are so excited to be part of the End Child Poverty campaign, and fully support the campaign’s goals of reducing child poverty and racial disparities in child poverty in half in the next decade.  We are not going to be successful as a state if we leave such large numbers of children behind.

Reducing child poverty is both a moral as well as an economic imperative, so as a policy organization, it is great to be partnering with faith-based organizations in this effort.

We are particularly supportive to the three part goal of the project

  1. Setting the poverty and racial disparity reduction goal;
  2. Adopting evidence based policies at the scale necessary to achieve the goal; and
  3. Establishing accountability and evaluation capacity to adjust policies and keep us on track.

Wisconsin’s child poverty, and our racial disparities in child hood poverty, have to be addressed.  It is up to every one of to do our part in that effort.  So I individually, and Kids Forward organizationally, pledge to do everything we can, along with all of  you, to generate the public and political  will to achieve our goal of reducing child poverty and racial disparities by half over the next decade.”