Tim Burgess, Seattle City Council President, quickly piqued the collective interest when he proposed a remedy for poverty. He advanced several factors in its perpetuation which are axiomatic, to wit:
–It is race-based.
–Children raised in poverty are likely as adults to remain poor, less educated, and more likely to encounter early parenthood.
–Persistent poverty tears at our social fabric. It weakens the city via the costs of remedial education, crime, and the support of indigent families.
–The single most important step to preclude the above is to invest in children and to do this early by means of home visitation.
There are three proven methods in place to give children a fair start in life, i.e.:
I. The Nurse-Family partnership, wherein twice-a-week visits are aimed at effective parenting. Providing parents and kids with higher self-esteem leads to better school performance, higher graduation rates, lower crime statistics, and a likelihood to escape poverty.
II. The Parent-Child Home Program. A trained reader visits a low income family and includes both mother and child in readings. A book is left behind. A toy at the next visit is related to the story recently read. Result: children do well in prekindergarten, require less special education, and have a 55% higher high school graduation rate than those not benefited by such help. NYC reports an ultimate saving of $210,000 per child as a consequence of the program. The one in Seattle reaches half of the families in need of it.
III. The Preschool Home Program. This readies children for kindergarten. It raises the standard found in low-quality prekindergarten classes, crowded classrooms, and poor reading fundamentals. It is predictable that a child not reading at the third grade level–and one-fourth of Seattle’s children cannot–will not be graduated from high school. This program has made inroads into these dismal statistics.
Tim Burgess has laid down the principles. Further implementation of them seems imperative.
Comment: In his excellent focus on the prevention of future poverty, Mr. Burgess did not address existing poverty, evidences of which we see daily, inflicted upon youths and adults. It is an enduring concern. For even as he spoke, the rain was falling on the homeless.