By: Louise Knauer and Susan Olson
Note: The opinions expressed represent the views of the Utah Citizens’ Counsel and its Social Support Systems Committee. The views do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.
The Utah Citizens’ Counsel (UCC) is an independent, non-partisan group of senior community advocates dedicated to improving Utah public policy on a range of issues. We issued our latest report in November 2020. We sometimes think of ourselves as the voice of well-informed grandparents, bringing current research and long experience in public affairs to bear on issues that affect future generations of Utahns. We have taken a particular interest in the well-being of the youngest residents of Utah, especially the impact of poverty on very young children.
Utah does have a child poverty problem. The latest data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation for Nov 25-Dec 21, 2020, report that 12% of adults were in households with children who sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat in the past week. Seventeen percent of adults living in households with children had slight or no confidence in paying the next rent or mortgage payment on time.
Poverty harms children in ways that last a lifetime. Poverty does the most profound harm to children from birth through the age of five. In 2019 the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (“the Academy”) issued a report requested by Congress, reviewing the scholarship on the many negative effects of poverty on young children, and determining the most effective programs to decrease childhood poverty by 50% in the country within 10 years. The Academy affirmed that poverty, in and of itself, causes negative child outcomes, especially if it begins in early childhood and/or is persistent. Other research has found that