The research is clear: Poverty is the single greatest threat to children's well-being. Lacking economic security, safe, affordable housing, health care, nutrition and quality education - especially during the early years, when 85 percent of brain development occurs - can hamper children's ability to flourish. Such deficiencies can also contribute to social, emotional and behavioral problems, poor health and mental health. Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or face deep and persistent poverty.
But effective public policies can make a difference. Understanding that the way to strengthen South Dakota is to invest in children, South Dakota Voices for Children in late 2008 brought together key stakeholders to identify cornerstones and develop recommendations to combat childhood poverty and shift public policy. That work is detailed in the report "A Common good." The five cornerstones are:
As a step toward helping families out of poverty, South Dakota Voices for Children in partnership with the Children's Defense Fund of Minnesota, has created the Bridge to Benefits Web site. This site will improve the well-being of many families and individuals by linking them to benefit programs and tax credits.
Voices has continued its work to end childhood poverty at a series of Summits on Children and Families in Poverty. The 2012 Summit featured release of "The State of Working South Dakota 2012." That report casts a light on some of the persistent economic disparities that continue to hamper efforts of working South Dakotans to achieve prosperity for themselves and their families.
An outcome of that event was creation of a partnership coalition to build prosperity for all South Dakotans over the next three years. For more information, or to join the coalition, contact South Dakota Voices for Children at 605 367-9667 or e-mail email@example.com.