Many have said that you can judge a state or nation by the way they treat their children, and in Wisconsin, our values have historically led to society that supports our youngest citizens. But in the last few years, we haven’t been making the same investments in our future caretakers, doctors, and teachers. Our child poverty rates are still higher than they were before the Great Recession, and we have significant racial and ethnic disparities when it comes to income and wealth.
Our new KIDS COUNT report, “Increasing Economic Security for Every Wisconsin Family” draws attention to the impact poverty has on children and families and highlights a number of policies and programs that lawmakers could implement that would greatly reduce poverty. Not only are these the right measures to take to help all kids thrive, they will save the state money in the long-term by reducing reliance on social programs and increasing economic productivity.
The report outlines three critical components to ending childhood poverty:
- Providing parents with pathways and support to earn family-supporting wages.
- Providing children, especially poor children, with high quality early childhood education to ensure they are kindergarten ready.
- Supporting parents so they can support and care for their children.
To create a vibrant and economically competitive future for Wisconsin, every child, every family, and every community must be given the opportunity to thrive. And with the state budget process approaching and with improved revenue projections, now is the perfect time to for lawmakers to show that children are a priority. While many politicians will eagerly affirm that they believe “our children are our future,” now is their chance to act like they mean it.