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Election 2008: "Forgotten Issue" Impacts One-in-Five NY Kids

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Monday, November 3, 2008   

New York, NY — It is being cited as the "forgotten issue" that affects 13 million American kids. With just hours to go, as candidates scramble to turn out the vote, an issue hanging over the heads of one out of every five New York children has gone missing. That issue is poverty, according to the Rev. Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive director of the Children's Defense Fund-New York.

Simpson understands that the economy is driving candidates to focus on middle-class voters. One party's symbol for addressing their woes is "Joe the Plumber;" the other party promises them a tax cut. However, Jordan-Simpson contends candidates of both parties are ignoring a much more serious situation. She proposes they promise actions to help the millions of children who live each day in poverty.

"We need strategies like promoting livable wages, investing in communities and ensuring that all children and pregnant women have access to high-quality, comprehensive health care. We are missing important opportunities to address child poverty at its roots."

Simpson says poverty costs the middle class and affluent alike billions of dollars each year in lost opportunity. She adds that child poverty numbers are even more troubling for people of color. The latest U.S. Census Bureau (2007) numbers show 29 percent of Black children in New York live in poverty.

Wall Street jitters have politicians worried about the competitiveness of the nation's workforce. Simpson agrees that's a valid concern. She says addressing it starts with healthy, well-nourished children.

"Tomorrow's competitive workforce is but a pipe dream if we do not have strong, forward-looking federal and local policies that work together to reduce the likelihood that another generation will remain trapped in poverty."

On this election eve, Simpson notes that almost six million American children live in what is called "extreme poverty."




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