During the 2012 legislative session, Utah lawmakers passed SB 37, the Intergenerational Poverty Act. This act requires the Department of Workforce Services to establish a tracking system for at-risk children, and to track poverty trends. Although the law is still relatively new, it has yielded several interesting statistics. Among these:
- The more impoverished a person is during childhood, the more likely that person is to receive public assistance (PA) as an adult.
- Almost 36,000 children receiving PA between 1989 and 2008 are now adults receiving PA. These “second generation” adults are ages 21 to 40 and represent 1 in every 24 Utahns of the same age group.
- Two-thirds of these second generation adults have children of their own. That is, there are currently 50,000 children in the “third generation” receiving PA whose parents were also children on PA.
Likely as a direct result of those newly-available statistics, Senator Stuart Reid (Republican – Ogden) has announced SB 43 – Intergenerational Poverty Interventions in Public Schools.
SB 43 would would establish the Intergenerational Poverty Interventions Grant Program through the state, which would fund educational opportunities in addition to the standard school day in an attempt to assist kids who are being raised in low-income households to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for them to have a chance at financial mobility.
The grant would pull an ongoing (yearly) $5 million from the General Education Fund (the pot of tax money which pays for all public schools in the state).
If SB 43 were to become law, local education agencies would submit grant proposals to an oversight board, the board would be responsible for determining whether the agencies requesting funds are able to demonstrate a feasible projected improvement in educational performance by children affected by intergenerational poverty. Other considerations are degree of poverty, ages of the impoverished students, free or reduced-price school lunch status, and English language learner status.
The $5 million price tag might scare off lawmakers and educators may not happy about funds coming out the education budget, however even further resistance to the bill could arise if Senator Reid goes elsewhere for the funding. Though $5 million may appear to be a high price to address poverty, the price of poverty itself is far higher—both from a budgetary and a societal view. By looking to address poverty, Reid is making a smart decision, both financially and morally.
To contact Senator Reid, click here or call 801-627-8178.
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Need for Legislation:
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Sound Legislation 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Clunker