From the Washington State Budget and Policy Center:
State of Washington’s Kids 2016, co-published with the Children’s Alliance through our Washington KIDS COUNT partnership, shows that children are better able to prosper when such basic needs are met as a secure place to sleep at night and food on the table. Yet four out of 10 kids in Washington state live in families that struggle to meet these basic needs, according to the report. This economic insecurity puts kids at greater risk of falling behind throughout their life – in school, jobs, personal health, and civic engagement. What’s more, structural racism – which exists because of a historical legacy of discriminatory practices in housing, finance, and education – means that kids of color find themselves on increasingly unequal and unstable footing.
The report shows that the number of homeless children is up by nearly 15,000 since 2008, and is particularly high among students of color. Just four in 10 children entering kindergarten are prepared in all six areas of readiness. And in all but two Washington counties, the number of child care slots available for hardworking parents is less than the number of children in need of such care.
There is plenty of reason for hope. For example, the rate of low birth weight babies in our state has remained quite low – below 6.4 percent – since 2005. And the number of children with health insurance increased to 96 percent in 2014. Nevertheless, much work remains to be done. Our report offers two multi-faceted solutions to provide all of Washington’s children with the opportunity to get ahead:
- Take meaningful steps to undo structural racism and the system of exclusionary practices and policies that breed inequities for kids of color. Replace them with solutions that enable kids from all backgrounds to succeed. One way policymakers can advance inclusivity is to use racial equity measurement tools to review the impact of proposed legislation that seeks to close the opportunity gap.
- Invest in the success of whole families by recognizing that the well-being of children is inextricably tied to the well-being of their parents. Initiative 1433, now gathering signatures for the November ballot, would help both parents and children by raising the take-home pay for thousands of working parents in Washington. And by providing paid sick and safe leave, it would also ensure that these parents don’t lose wages when they need to take care of themselves or their children when they’re sick.
Taking steps to implement these common-sense solutions would set Washington’s children up to have a healthy start in life, have their basic needs met, and succeed in school and life. We’ll build a better future for all of us if we take the right steps for our children now.
Read the full analysis at schmudget blog.