5 Articles to Get Smart on Poverty


Poverty is complex and and the path forward may not always seem clear or direct. We hear from a lot of people that the issue is overwhelming. As a result, they disengage.

We’ve put together a list of articles to help you get smart about child poverty. The truth is it’s not that complicated, and after you learn more about it, you’ll see that real solutions are everywhere.

Happy reading!

The Way to Beat Poverty | The New York Times discusses the importance of intervening early and addressing the opportunity gap in America.

What Poverty Does to the Young Brain | The New Yorker dives into the physiological effects that poverty has on children’s brains.

Child Poverty in the United States Today | The Academic Pediatric Association provides an overview of child poverty in the United States today.

The Safety Net Is Crucial for Kids | US News & World Report outlines the importance of the safety net and how government programs like tax credits and SNAP are proven to lower childhood poverty rates.

How Poverty Can Follow Children Into Adulthood | Frontline dives into the long-term effects of poverty for children and how it leads to negative outcomes in adulthood.

Poverty as a Childhood Disease | The New York Times discusses poverty as an underlying threat to health and development.

Who’s it going to be?

A damn tough year in America

GRACE CEO Conway Collis, photo credit Phil Desmangles

After a roller-coaster ride of bad policies, the federal government capped off the year with a billionaire tax cut that says private planes are more important than kids living in poverty.

This is a shocking and terrible reality of today’s politics. But there are good reasons to be determined and hopeful about 2018.

This year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1520—the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act—which established a statewide Task Force to reduce child poverty in our state.

This is a critical first step.

In December, the Task Force met for the first time to work on a comprehensive plan. The 35 members represented important perspectives: people with direct experience living in poverty, state and local service providers, state agency leaders, and criminal justice and local government representatives.

The same fact-based, expert-led strategy that has reduced California’s greenhouse gas emissions and made our state a world leader in environmental protections is now being focused on child poverty.

So, in spite of the bad news from Washington, we have every reason to be optimistic. 2018 will be a milestone year in the fight to end child poverty in California. We will elect a new governor and 100 state legislators. Let’s make sure our incoming leaders make our most vulnerable children a priority.

Updates will be coming your way throughout the year. It is your involvement that will make the difference. Let’s get this done.

Together let’s make 2018 count!

Conway Collis

California Kids Have a Right to Health Care

Unless Congress acts now, California could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). About 1.3 million kids in California rely on CHIP for everything from prescriptions to emergency services—and without federal funds, their health is at risk.

Congress let funding for CHIP expire in September, and since then, legislators haven’t made a serious effort to restore funding for the program. That’s a problem, because California estimates that its CHIP funding will run out by January.

It’s important to know that California is legally obligated to pay for CHIP when federal funding runs out, and state lawmakers have no idea where they will get that money on short notice. To put it more bluntly: There is no backup plan.

End Child Poverty in California is petitioning Congress to keep financing CHIP, and we need your signature. Over the course of 20 years, the program has decreased the rate of uninsured children in California from 13.9 percent to 4.5 percent. We can’t let that number rise again.

CHIP makes health care affordable for millions of California families:

The program also helps children grow into thriving, financially secure adults:

Without federal money for CHIP, our state could reverse the progress we’ve made for low- and middle-income children—and that’s unacceptable. Please add your signature to our petition and remind Congress that California kids deserve good health.

People Are Saying Some Crazy Things…

We’ve been seeing a lot of trolls online lately. It’s no surprise.

BIG WIN for California Kids! Gov. Brown Signs Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act

It’s time to celebrate and get to work: Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1520, the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act. This is a big deal—the first step toward dramatically reducing poverty for 1.9 million kids in California. Your calls, tweets, and signatures helped make this happen.

Take two seconds and thank Gov. Brown for hearing us and signing AB 1520:

Once you’ve done that, follow us on social media and ask your friends to do the same:

We’ve had a big win and now it’s time to grow the movement. We need allies to make sure the AB 1520 Task Force gets the resources and influence it needs to be effective.

Remember: This isn’t theoretical. We know how to end child poverty in California. And together we’ll get it done.

Want to find out about other pro-kid bills that had big wins this legislative season? Check out the CA Legislative Women’s Caucus and Children Now.

Enough Is Enough with the “Bootstraps”

The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” phrase is everywhere. But let’s name it for what it is: a bully phrase that insults millions of working families living on a razor’s edge every day.

If you pay attention to stories and statistics, you know that working families are already pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

  • 78% of families on Medicaid include a family member who works.
  • Of families who receive SNAP, the federal food assistance program, 55% are working families, and 71% of families who turn to food pantries have a household member who is working.
  • Demanding, critical careers like home health aides (averaging $23,600 per year) and child-care workers (averaging $21,170 per year) pay too little to cover basic costs like rent or childcare.

Veronica, a member of our community, shared, “The bureaucracy is astounding when it comes to families applying to ‘child care subsidies,’ even a mom with three children who is working and earning $18 an hour can’t afford child care, and if she does, it’s not available after 5:00pm, half an hour earlier than what she needs, because of her work schedule!”

Bootstraps are clearly not enough.

We need comprehensive, research-backed strategies to dramatically reduce poverty—strategies that meet the needs of California’s hard-working families.

Our next generation is depending on us. Join us.


Applying Science to Solve Poverty: CA’s AB 1520

By David Grusky, Ph.D, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University; Director, Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality (Above, Professor Grusky testifies at an April hearing for AB 1520)

May 2017 – When a highway bridge collapses in California, as one recently did in Big Sur, there’s no paralyzing legislative debate about whether to fix it, how to fix it, or even when to fix it. We just fix it.

So here’s a puzzle: Why don’t we also “just fix it” when it comes to repairing California’s poverty problem? It’s beyond debate, just to be clear, that California does have a massive poverty problem: The best available measure, the California Poverty Measure, puts the overall poverty rate at 20.6 percent and the child poverty rate at 23.1 percent.

Why has California, the land of plenty, evidently decided that it’s just fine to have one of the country’s highest poverty rates? Here’s the main reason: It’s widely believed that we just don’t know how to take on poverty. We’re quick to fix the bridge because at least we know how to fix it. But poverty, by contrast, is seen as too complicated to remedy.

This view, however widespread it may be, confuses effects with causes. It’s quite right that the effects of poverty are complicated: These effects show up, for example, as health problems, cognitive problems, education problems, crime problems, marital problems, and labor market problems. It’s a massive, complicated, and unending job to treat the effects of poverty. It’s like plugging holes in a dam.

But the causes of poverty are, by contrast, comparatively simple and well understood. In recent decades, we’ve seen major advances in the science of poverty, advances that now make it possible — for the first time — to treat poverty at its source and reduce it permanently. This new science of poverty identifies the major turning points and junctures in a child’s life and identifies the interventions at each juncture that have been proven to work. When these interventions are knitted together into a comprehensive plan, they have a powerfully cumulative effect. The key features of this new science — and how it might be applied to reduce poverty in California — have been laid out in a recent report issued by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.

When poverty is treated at its source, the safety net becomes a sacred institution for restoring the American Dream. It’s not about charity. It’s about recommitting us to the principle that opportunity shouldn’t be put on the market and sold only to parents who have the money to buy it for their children.

But we can’t restore the American Dream with reports, science, and research alone. We also need good law. The latter comes in the form of AB 1520, the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act of 2017, authored by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood). This bill mandates that California move into the 21st century by building an anti-poverty response based on the new science of poverty. It mandates that our response must reduce child poverty by 50 percent over 20 years. And it mandates that we rigorously evaluate our progress toward that goal.

We of course don’t know how to do all this perfectly. But that shouldn’t paralyze us. We can continuously monitor the effectiveness of our interventions to assess what’s working and to reform our interventions in response to unforeseen results or new developments in science. The simple upshot: We can — and should — get started now and then continuously improve our response over time.

We thus have one of those rare opportunities to take control of California’s future and stand up for our children, expose the state’s lip-service commitment to equal opportunity, and to make it clear that — at least in California — we’ll make our commitment to equal opportunity a real and authentic one.


Find out more about the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality here.

Read the bill text for AB 1520 here.

Moms in Support of AB 1520

We’re honoring moms this week, because after-school programs, early childhood education, and access to high-quality child care benefit more than kids–they help lift moms out of poverty, too.

Failure to address child poverty guarantees the continued cycle of poverty. Moms want more for our kids and their futures.

Moms need support, and strong moms support AB 1520, the Lifting Children and Families out of Poverty Act.

Let’s break the cycle of poverty for one million California children. Join in to support AB 1520.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Rally to End Child Poverty Covered in the LA Times

Sunday’s Rally to End Child Poverty drew almost 500 people to South Los Angeles, and marked a catalyst for the movement to end child poverty in California. The LA Times article features some of the rally’s speakers, including high school senior Ilene Garcia, Rep. John Lewis, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Assemblywoman Autumn Burke.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. John Lewis join L.A. rally to end child poverty

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) speaks at a rally pushing a California Assembly bill aimed at reducing child poverty in the state. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times
U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) speaks at a rally pushing a California Assembly bill aimed at reducing child poverty in the state. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times

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