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A prayer to end child poverty in our time

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 9/24/2017, 2:44 p.m.
We know what to do to end child poverty if we want to enrich America. The U.S. Census Bureau reported ...

Children’s Defense Fund

We know what to do to end child poverty if we want to enrich America. The U.S. Census Bureau reported this week that the number of children in poverty declined slightly again for the second year, but that children shamefully are still our poorest age group. More than 13.2 million children – 18 percent of all children – were poor in 2016. Almost 70 percent of our poor children were children of color.

Census data also showed the positive benefits government programs have for poor children with data from the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which tracks the impact of government programs on family resources. It showed 1.5 million children escaped poverty with the help of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – previously food stamps; 1.05 million with the help of housing subsidies; and 4.4 million with the help of the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and other refundable credits. And I could go on. The bottom line is we know steps we can take right now to end child poverty as we approach the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s and Robert Kennedy’s Poor People’s Campaign and call to end poverty and hunger. I ask that we commit to doing so by ending poverty beginning with every poor child. This means stopping the budget ravaging at the federal level and in states and localities of programs we know can help feed, house, clothe, educate and prepare our most vulnerable children for the future and help more families work at decent wages. And we must stop the moral obscenity of politicians pitting the rich against the poor and proposing more tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans by stealing from survival programs for our poorest Americans, including children, to pay for them.

My deepest wish and prayer is for Dr. King’s dream to end poverty to become reality in our times beginning with children right now. They have only one childhood.

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God help us to end poverty in our time.

The poverty of having a child with too little to eat and no place to sleep, no air, sunlight and space to breathe, bask and grow.

The poverty of watching your child suffer hunger or get sicker and sicker and not knowing what to do or how to get help because you don’t have another dime or a car, money or health insurance.

The poverty of working your fingers to the bone every day taking care of somebody else’s children and neglecting your own, and still not being able to pay your bills.

The poverty of having a job which does not let you afford a stable place to live and being terrified you’ll become homeless and lose your children to foster care.

The poverty of losing your job, running out of unemployment benefits and having no other help in sight.

The poverty of working all your life caring for your own children and having to start all over again caring for the grandchildren you love.

The poverty of earning a college degree, having children, opening a day care center and taking home $300 a week – or a month – if you’re lucky.