A national public opinion poll just released by the Children’s Leadership Council found strong support for increased funding for effective programs that improve the lives of children and youth across the age spectrum, from birth to adulthood.
“Elected officials have an obligation to support, protect and defend programs that invest in and assist children, youth and their families. Americans are asking for no less,” says Randi Carmen Schmidt, executive director of the Children’s Leadership Council, which commissioned the poll.
Majorities of all political persuasions want to make children’s programs and services a higher budget priority.
In Michigan, substantial numbers of children rely on federally funded programs for their basic needs: Roughly half of all K-12 students are eligible for free and reduced priced school lunch and a quarter of a million young children live in families that qualify for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. While unemployment is down for Michigan workers so are wages and opportunities for full-time employment.
The Children’s Leadership Council — a coalition of more than 50 of the nation’s leading child and youth advocacy organizations — commissioned Hart Research Associates to conduct the telephone poll of a nationally representative sample of over 800 Americans age 18 and older. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5%.
Among the results of the nationwide poll:
- By a strong margin, Americans say that investing more in children’s health, education and well-being should be a higher priority today than reducing taxes.
- As we near national mid-term Congressional elections, a majority of registered voters polled would be more likely to support a candidate who favored increasing funding for programs and services to address children’s needs — only 10% would be less likely to favor such a candidate.
Almost two of every three respondents agreed that “the best way to provide a secure retirement [for seniors] is to ensure that we have productive workers contributing to the economy in the future.”
Children and young people have shouldered much of the burden of the sluggish economic recovery: Nearly one in four children in Michigan lives in families with income below poverty level. New Census Bureau data show the vital role federal anti-poverty programs like SNAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit play in lifting children out of poverty.
Cutting such services and supports is not only unjust, it is short-sighted. The well-being of our youth today affects the health and economic vitality of our state and nation now and in the decades to come.
– Jane Zehnder-Merrell