To the Editor:
Today, 20 percent of children are living in poverty. Iowa is no exception–the poverty rate in Iowa alone in 2012 was 12.9 percent. In 2011, the child poverty rate was 17 percent, the senior poverty rate was 9 percent, and the women poverty rate was 14 percent.
The number of single-parent families with related children living below poverty is currently at 33 percent of Iowa’s total population. These numbers are mind blowing, and we believe that there is more we can do about this.
Children who grow up in low-income families have a difficult time escaping poverty as adults. In general, young people are not prepared to manage their finances when they reach adulthood; that lack of fiscal responsibility is even worse for young people living in poverty. Since the majority of children’s time is spent in school, our school system has the power to offset the lack of financial education these students might not be receiving at home. Therefore, it makes sense to implement mandatory financial education early and consistently throughout the 6-12 school years. Learning about budgeting, checking accounts, savings accounts, direct deposit, and saving money for future education are all valuable skills that can help prevent future poverty. Children need the tools to break the cycle, and the school system can give those to them.
Children are our future, and knowledge is power. If they do not have the information they need to manage their money, we cannot expect them to grow up to be successful individuals or escape the cycle of poverty.
Stephanie McKean, Rachel Johnson, Hannah Wiedemeier, Monica Bond, Nikki Seehusen, Noelia Espinal-Lujan, and Alison Kuhfus