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Children raised in poverty are less likely to graduate from high school or remain consistently employed, leaving them in a life of poverty.
That is the finding of the Annie E. Casey Foundation in its "Kids Count" report that emphasis a "two generation approach" to keep children in poverty from becoming adults in poverty.
Patrick McCarthy, president of the foundation noted that intergenerational poverty needs a two-generation solution. "For too long, our approach to poverty has focused separately on children and adults, instead of their interrelated needs."
That finding parallels a Utah program that has launched a pilot program aimed at putting families, rather than just individuals, on the path to stability and self-sufficiency.
Some 142,000 Utah children ages five and younger live in poverty, according to the foundation's report issued this week.
Of those, 37 percent have no parent with year-round full employment. And 62 percent have no parent with at least a two-year associates degree.
About 42 percent of U.S. children born to parents at the bottom of the income ladder stay there, according to the foundation's report.
Children in poverty are more likely to have developmental delays and are less likely to graduate from high school.
The foundation's report recommends inter-agency collaboration, aligned policies and shared innovation funds.
"Put common sense into common practice by structuring public systems to respond to the realities facing today's families," it states.
Low-income wage earners face challenges of working long hours for relatively low pay, have difficulty finding affordable child care, struggle to provide proper nourishment for their kids, and hassle with such basic things as transportation, said Terry Haven, deputy director of the advocacy group Voices for Utah Children.
Much of the foundation's report, she said, parallels a three-year-old program in Utah that seeks solutions to "intergenerational" poverty.
The Utah Intergenerational Poverty Mitigation Act, passed in 2012, assigns the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) to track impoverished children who are at risk of remaining in poverty as adults. That data is bringing to service providers a greater understanding of the phenomenon and how to overcome it.
Haven said the Annie E. Casey Foundation report reinforces the Utah program's philosophy of "making sure families get what they need no matter what agency they're dealing with."
Investing in children gives the next generation a better path to a healthy, happy life, she said.
"But children in low-income homes don't have good outcomes."
Both the foundation's report and the Utah project suggest using existing child, adult and neighborhood programs to find practical pathways out of poverty for entire families.
The number one challenge facing children in poverty is abuse and neglect, which can have long-term impacts, said Tracy Gruber, the senior adviser for the Utah Intergenerational Poverty program. Education is paramount to getting those individuals out of poverty, but they often lag behind in basic skills, she said. Not least is that impoverished kids are not getting appropriate health care, including mental-health care.
A pilot program recently launched by DWS in Ogden, called "Next Generation Kids," is a two-generation approach for families participating in the state's Family Employment Program, Gruber noted. Some 30 families are participating.
It brings together service providers, such as child care, schools, job training and adult education. The program also collaborates with other state agencies and seeks to get the families on the path toward self-sufficiency.
Moving families out of poverty benefits everyone, she said.