Statement: Amendment to the Joining Opportunity with Benefits and Services (JOBS) for Success Act (H.R. 5861) would hold the government accountable for reducing child poverty
The First Focus Campaign for Children applauds Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL-7) for offering an amendment to the Joining Opportunity with Benefits and Services (JOBS) for Success Act (H.R. 5861) that would hold the government accountable to significantly reducing child poverty in the U.S. First Focus Campaign for Children also applauds Congresswoman Chu for her leadership and supportive remarks. While we are disappointed that this amendment was voted down 21-14, we appreciate Chairman Brady and Congresswoman Jenkins’s commitment to continuing to work with Congressman Davis on this policy.
This amendment would establish a national child poverty target in the U.S., setting the goal of cutting child poverty in half within a decade and eliminating child poverty within 20 years. It would also mandate the federal government to come up with a national plan to meet these targets that is developed in consultation with nongovernmental entities providing social services to low-income children and families; advocacy groups that directly represent low-income children and families; policy experts; and officials of state, local, and tribal governments, including the working group of the largest state and local associations who administer or direct policy for antipoverty programs.
It was offered as part of the Joining Opportunity with Benefits and Services (JOBS) for Success Act (H.R. 5861), which would reauthorize the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for five years and make changes that include the addition of child poverty reduction as an explicit goal of TANF. Despite this added goal, we are concerned that the changes proposed in H.R. 5861 would not significantly strengthen TANF’s ability to reduce child poverty. The inclusion of this amendment would have been a significant step towards ensuring that the JOBS for Success Act holds federal, state and local governments accountable to reducing child poverty in the U.S.
In addition to First Focus Campaign for Children, there are several other organizations that support this amendment, including: Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Children’s Advocacy Institute, Child Welfare League of America, Family Focused Treatment Association, National Association of Counties, National Association for the Education of Young Children, National Diaper Bank Network, National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives, National WIC Association and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. Some members of the U.S. Child Poverty Action Group also sent a letter to the House Ways & Means Committee in support of this amendment.
First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley made the following statement:
“Children continue to disproportionately experience poverty in the U.S. This amendment is a practical first step towards changing that. We see from the UK that child poverty is not an insurmountable problem when there is the political will to address it. We are grateful for Congressman Davis and Congresswoman Chu’s leadership in making child poverty reduction a priority and urge all policymakers to do the same.”
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.