We need to address poverty in every aspect of a child’s life and throughout a child’s life. Our cradle-to-college approach will achieve better results while ultimately saving taxpayers money.
It is critical to reach children at an early age because kids in poverty can fall behind in development as early as 18-months-old and 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before age five. That means voluntary home visiting programs that help moms access prenatal care and support parents until a child turns five, and affordable, high-quality childcare and preschool programs are all crucial.
We also need to make sure kids stay in school—54 percent of high school dropouts live in poverty. California’s young learners need access to after-school programs and tutoring that will help them graduate.
We will not succeed if we do not address income for working families, which is why we need to expand job training, increase welfare-to-work (CalWORKS) grants, and increase the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
We know that poverty is concentrated in specific communities, so our plan calls for the creation of California Promise Zones, where services are coordinated and agencies collaborate in the areas of highest need. This is a proven way to combine resources and help families trapped in areas of high poverty.
In addition, California must address the housing crisis so that affordable housing is available, and there must be comprehensive immigration reform so that immigrant families who are already contributing to our economy can fully access and participate in our communities.
There’s even more to it, especially the availability of good jobs and job training, but that should give you a good start. Backing all this up will be some of the most respected experts in the field, analyzing solid data to make sure our plan is working and money is being used effectively.