Connecticut Speaker of the House of Representatives Chris Donovan announced on June 16 the formation of a legislative task force that will help plan Connecticut’s response to the economic crisis for its youngest citizens. The move makes Connecticut the first state in the nation to form a legislative task force to plan for assisting children in the recession and during the recovery.
The task force begins its work on the heels of a report from the Foundation for Child Development and Duke University that the recession will send between 2.6 million and 3.3 million children into poverty, costing American taxpayers $1.7 trillion. The estimated economic impact on Connecticut is $800 million annually.
The researchers predict that virtually all the progress made in children’s economic well-being since 1975 is likely to be wiped out by the current economic downturn. Researchers said the impact is especially severe for low-income children of color. Children who fall into poverty now will feel the impact well past recovery of the economy.
The report also warns that family income will decline, households run by women will see incomes fall, and single-parent households headed by men will see the steepest drop of all.
Among the other predictions: The housing crisis will disrupt social relationships for children; homelessness will increase; children’s health will suffer; obesity and violent crime will rise; Black and Latino children will be affected most by these changes as their communities are most sensitive to fluctuations in the economy.
“There is no greater risk to Connecticut’s future than the adverse effects of this recession on our children. The evidence suggests that children will feel the impact of the economic crisis far into the future. They are our future, and we must do everything we can to protect them from the ravages of the recession. From economic security to hunger, healthcare, family and parental support, child care, education and safety, our children are at risk and it is our responsibility to care for their needs.”
“As a state, we will recover from this recession. But what is critical for us to understand is that children will not. By creating this task force, we are not waiting for the negative results to hit in four or five year but we are taking the initiative to address the problems now.”
-- Representative Jarmoc
“We can let 35,000 children in Connecticut fall into poverty or we can move forward and work on protecting them now.”
-- Representative Urban
The announcement of the task force also included presentations from two nationally prominent researchers on child poverty: Michael Linden of First Focus of Washington, D.C., and Kenneth Land, the John Franklin Crowell Professor of Sociology at Duke University.
Mr. Linden's presentation included such findings as a child who falls into poverty during a recession is twice as likely to live below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level as an adult. (View his PowerPoint presentation.)
Dr. Land presented data indicating "a
high probability that there will be some reversal of
decades-long improvements." (View his PowerPoint presentation.)
The task force will be co-chaired by state Representatives Karen Jarmoc of Enfield and Diana S. Urban of North Stonington. Speaker Donovan said the membership will include -- along with the Commission on Children -- bipartisan membership from the state House of Representatives, the state Senate, Connecticut's congressional offices, economists and representatives from business, family support groups, housing advocates, human services, academia and nonprofit agencies.
The task force will review budget implications related to children and the recession; identify trends and research resulting from the recession related to housing, employment, homelessness, child care, and unemployment; make recommendations to the Speaker on appropriate budget and policy action; and recommend efficiencies and offer ways to streamline services and access points for families.
The task force will report quarterly on key findings and work to identify appropriate federal stimulus opportunities to support programs for children.
Also attending the event were: House
Majority Leader Merrill; Representatives Catherine Abercrombie, Larry
Butler, Beth Bye, Beth, Michelle Cook, Tony Hwang, Marie Kirkley-Bey,
Barbara Lambert, Jack Thompson, and Toni Walker; and Senators Paul
Doyle, Edward Meyer, and Anthony Musto.
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