Most people with a moral compass would love to see children raised with the ability to succeed and would make it happen. We know that when given the opportunity to vote on actions that would impact that chance of succeeding, most of the time citizens are voting for what they believe is in the best interests of children.
The bond issues reflect this desire, and Tahlequah voters adopted the last proposed school bond issue in 2009, which required a 60% majority. That’s a pretty good reflection of support! What we don’t see is behind the scenes of children’s homes, and those living in poverty are at a distinct disadvantage. According to ChildTrends, there are five main ways child poverty affects children and their likelihood of succeeding.
1. Poverty harms the brain and other body systems. “Children who experience poverty have an increased likelihood, extending into adulthood, of many chronic diseases and a shortened life expectancy.”
2. Poverty creates and widens achievement gaps. “From early childhood, gaps are evident in key aspects of learning, knowledge and social-emotional development. When left unresolved, these early gaps gradually widen. »
3. Poverty leads to poor physical, emotional and behavioral health. “Poverty works in multiple ways to restrict children’s opportunities and expose them to threats to their well-being.”
4. Poor children are more likely to live in neighborhoods where poverty is concentrated, which is associated with many social ills. “Poor children are more likely to live in neighborhoods where they are exposed to environmental toxins and other physical hazards, including crime and violence.”
5. Poverty can harm children through the negative effects it has on their family and home environment. “Children from poor families have fewer books and other educational resources at home, and they are less likely to experience family outings, activities and programs that can enrich learning opportunities. “
What can be done? After all, “the poor will always be with you.” That may be true, but we can still help ease the burden.
We now know that a child tax credit provided in the form of monthly allowances instead of an annual lump sum can reduce child poverty. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The U.S. bailout, enacted in March 2021, increased the child tax credit for more than 65 million U.S. children — about 90% of children — and established child tax payments. monthly advances.
The improved tax credit has enabled parents across the country to pay for food, clothing, shelter and other basic necessities and is expected to reduce the number of children living in poverty by more than 40% per year. relative to child poverty levels in the absence of expansion.”
Even with this knowledge, our one-person congressional delegation voted against the effort. More coolly and boldly, Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, said: “It’s something they have to consider when making that choice. I never really thought it was the responsibility of society to take care of other people’s children.”
It’s a sad statement when he says having children is a “choice” while insisting that he and the government know better than women about their own health choices, especially when it comes to health. is about having babies. Along with the Oklahoma delegation, Johnson voted against the US bailout.
So while we can argue that anyone could be president or whatever they aspire to be, we know some are at a disadvantage. A child tax credit can make a difference in a child’s life and help them succeed. Let’s support making that difference!
Robert Lee is a retired social worker with an interest in history and politics. He lives in Tahlequah.