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Legislation introduced in Congress aims to reduce childhood poverty

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On July 24, Reps. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), and Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) reintroduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would significantly reduce childhood poverty over the next decade if enacted. H.R. 3381, the Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2017, aims to coordinate evidence-based policies across the federal, state and local levels to improve the well-being of children in low-income families. It would also create a federal task force to identify a national plan to address the country’s high child poverty rate.

Sens. Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced a similar bill in the U.S. Senate on July 25 titled S. 1630, the Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2017.

Research shows that children growing up in poverty exhibit poorer behavioral and emotional health outcomes compared to their more affluent peers, and are less likely to succeed academically and economically later in life. According to Rep. Barbara Lee, Chair of the Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity, nearly one in five American children and one in three black and Latino children live in poverty.

Tackling child poverty is a key focus for NACo President Roy Brooks, and NACo has been working with Members of Congress and their staff on the legislation. “Counties invest in critical services that break cycles of poverty and help children and families thrive,” President Brooks said in a statement applauding the bill’s introduction. Examples of these services include the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant. Resources like these help fill gaps between other social services programs and their success has been a longtime priority for NACo’s Human Services and Education Steering Committee.

NACo stands ready to work with our federal partners to create pathways out of poverty for children and will continue to monitor legislative developments on these bills.

For more NACo advocacy resources, please see the following:

Faces of the Social Services Block Grant

Serving the Underserved: Counties Addressing Poverty

NACo 2017 Summer Advocacy Toolkit

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