Children walking down street with their father wearing backpacks

Making Sure That Children Count



Children represent an incredibly important part of the country, for they are one-quarter of the population. Beyond the numbers, children will be our next generation of workers and leaders. The share of federal funding directed towards children has declined and today amounts to under 8 percent of the overall budget.

In 2013, over 14.7 million children in the US were poor in 2013, and the majority of those children lived in families with working parents. 1 in 5 children in the US are currently living in poverty and 1.3 million school children are homeless. This high child’s poverty rate costs our country half a trillion dollars every year in lost productivity as well as in extra health and criminal justice costs; money that could better be spent on creating or implementing programs that could truly benefit these children and set them on a path towards progress.

Social safety net programs are crucial to ensuring children who are experiencing poverty stay afloat. The share of federal funding directed towards children has declined and today amounts to under 8 percent of the overall budget. In 2013 federal safety net programs kept 8.2 million children, over 11% of all children, out of poverty. For instance, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) kept 3.2 million children out of poverty in 2013.

Summer meals programs are to ensuring school-age children are able to access nutritious, low-cost, or free meals during the summer when school is out. Urge your Senators to pass the bipartisan Summer Meals Act of 2014 (S. 2527) today!

Children are also key players in policies not explicitly related to economic justice issues. In debates regarding adoption for same-sex couples, we need to act to ensure safe and supportive homes to children in need, regardless of potential parents’ sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Additionally, action is still needed to help the unaccompanied minors stuck at the United States’ southern border.

Jewish tradition places a great deal of value on the sanctity of children and their welfare. We are taught that “by the breath of children God sustains the world” (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat119b). Since children are the inheritors of the future, we have a responsibility to honor children and to ensure that they will soon have the skills and the strength to be our future leaders. We acknowledge how important it is to ensure that children are well cared for and are healthy.

We need to ensure that we maintain programs that take care of children, in the new Congress and in future efforts to come. Check out the RAC’s Economic Justice page to learn more about how these efforts are helping children today.

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Melanie Fineman

About Melanie Fineman

Melanie Fineman is a 2014-2015 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. She graduated from Brown University in 2014 and is originally from Newton, Massachusetts, where she is a member of Temple Shalom of Newton.

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