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Bill Seeks to Reduce Childhood Poverty by 50 Percent

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March 9, 2017

The California Catholic Conference (CCC) is closely monitoring and eager to follow Assembly Bill 1520, the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act, by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke.

AB 1520, which is sponsored by GRACE (Gather, Respect, Advocate Change, Engage), commits the Legislature to a goal of reducing childhood poverty by 50 percent over the next 20 years and provides a comprehensive framework of research-backed solutions to achieve it. 

According to a study by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Equality, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation at 23.4 percent, and the poverty rate for children is even higher at 25.1 percent.  

In a released statement, Assemblymember Burke called California’s 2 million children who live in poverty “frankly embarrassing.”

“We have the 6th largest economy in the world, yet we have so many children living under the conditions of poor schools, unsafe neighborhoods, and a lack of economic mobility. No child should face these odds,” said Assemblywoman Burke. “As a mother and an Assemblywoman, I cannot begin to fathom that we have accepted to have 2 million children living in poverty. AB 1520 will analyze current funding and create stronger responsibility mechanisms to ensure that we fully invest in programs that lift our families out of poverty and put the American Dream within their reach.”

AB 1520 requires the Legislature to invest in programs proven to significantly reduce child poverty including child care and early childhood education, home visiting programs, after school and summer programs, work force development, Medi-Cal expansion, affordable housing, expansion of the California Earned Income Tax Credit, CalWORKS increases, and Investment in Promise Zones.

Expert analysis has found over time that this approach will ultimately save taxpayers money in healthcare and social services, reduce overcrowded prisons, decrease child abuse, and cut the number of children living in poverty by 50 percent. Experts estimate an over 2:1 return on investment.

“AB 1520 is ground breaking legislation that changes the way California does business,” said Conway Collis, CEO of GRACE, a sponsor of AB 1520, and former Chair of the State Board of Equalization. “California is committing to reduce child poverty and adopting mechanisms to measure and monitor its success. The fact is that poverty at this level will eventually overwhelm the state budget. Reducing child poverty helps everyone.”

Visit the CCC’s Legislation page for the latest on this and other bills.