A Plan to Create Economic Stability for Young Families

–submitted by Rick Kiley; photo by Karl Wellensiek

Renee Moe 1

Club President Ellsworth Brown and Renee Moe

This week’s speaker was President/CEO of United Way of Dane County and our club’s past president, Renee Moe, who presented “What Strategies Will Help Decrease Poverty in Our Community and Create Economic Stability for Young Families?”

In late 2014 the United Way of Dane County convened a blue-ribbon delegation to address this question.  Led by UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank and former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, the group recently presented recommendations.

Poverty is defined as income for a family of four less than $24,000 per year.  Renée explained our county poverty rate of 14% is similar to rates statewide and nationwide.  About 25% of those living in poverty are children.  Rates are 2-3 times higher for families of color than white families; the rate for single-parent families is nearly ten-fold that of 2-parent families.

Children are especially affected by poverty.  Delayed development can begin early in infancy and be much as two years when kindergarten begins.  The result is the need to address whole families; parents’ stress becomes children’s stress.

The delegation recommends four strategies for addressing our area’s poverty:

  1. Ensure children in poverty are developmentally ready to be successful in school.
  2. Secure family-sustaining employment for young families in poverty.
  3. Increase affordable, available housing.
  4. Provide holistic, two generation, coordinated supports to young parents in poverty.

The United Way has a call to action for those wanting to unite to address poverty, including:

  • Businesses: To hire nontraditional workers in poverty and of color.
  • Nonprofits: To innovate to build capacity.
  • Faith organizations: To volunteer and partner.
  • Elected leaders: To evaluate laws and rules unintentionally keeping people in poverty.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  CLICK to watch the video.

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