The 2013 Census Report on poverty rates told us what we already knew: far too many Americans – particularly children and those of color – live in poverty. But recent Congressional actions could take small steps to help poor children, youth and families. Our friends at CLASP have done a great job of summarizing the needs and the Congressional actions in this blog post.
The first is the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA), passed this summer. It’s the first reauthorization of workforce training programs in 16 years and received bipartisan support. WIOA helps state and local workforce leaders heighten their focus on and services to those struggling in the workforce, such as those with limited skills or education, which often means those living in poverty. WIOA also helps make it easier for these workers to juggle the demands of ongoing education and jobs to improve their overall skills, employability and outlook.
Congress also has supported the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program which provides home visits to high-risk families to support infant development and parental skills. It also funded Early Head Start-child care partnerships to support high-quality pre-K programs. And the House has passed a reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) fro the first time in 18 years, with Senate action expected in November. CCDBG funds help keep families stable by supporting work and childcare for low income families.
While MIECHV expires in April 2015 and will hopefully be extended, and funding levels for WIOA and CCDBG are not yet sufficient to meet these programs’ goals, the level of bipartisan agreement to support all of these programs is hopefully a signal of more poverty-focused policies to come.