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Report Lauds Connecticut's Role In Reducing Child Poverty

By ANN MARIE SOMMA, Courant Staff Writer

April 18, 2008

A national report released Thursday praises Connecticut as one of a growing number of states that have taken a leadership role in reducing child poverty.

The report, prepared by the Washington-based nonprofit Center for Law and Social Policy, lauds Connecticut for passing a 2004 initiative to cut child poverty in half by 2014. The report also cites the creation of the state's Child Poverty and Prevention Council made up of legislators, state department heads, advocates and poverty experts.

But state child advocates said the report is mere window dressing. Despite the state's leadership role, child poverty has actually increased in the state since 2004, said Shelley Geballe, president of CT Voices For Children.

In 2004, 10.1 percent of state children were living in poverty. The most recent U.S. Census bureau data shows an increase to 10.7 percent, Geballe said.

The census also found that the number of poor children living in families earning less than the federal poverty level of $20,516 for a family of four increased in Hartford, Bridgeport, Stamford and Waterbury.

"The trend is heading in the wrong direction," Geballe said.

Geballe said the state has not acted on recommendations or put enough resources into initiatives outlined by the child poverty council.

Among the council's recommendations is for the state to establish an earned income tax credit for low-wage earners. Since 1998, 28 bills to enact an earned income tax credit have died at the state Capitol, Geballe said.

The report, titled "Seizing the Moment: State Governments and the New Commitment to Reduce Poverty in America," identifies states that are addressing poverty through measures ranging from creating economic opportunity to state-sponsored poverty summits.

States highlighted in the report include Delaware, Vermont, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota.

Jodie Levin-Epstein, deputy director of the Center for Law and Social Policy and lead author of the report, said the report shows that governments can no longer ignore poverty.

"For Connecticut to set out to cut poverty in half by 2014 establishes that the state cares about this problem," Levin-Epstein said. "It doesn't wave a magic wand and makes it happen. It takes political leadership to make change."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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