OLYMPIA – Last night the House passed Rep. David Sawyer’s (D – Parkland) bill to address the cycle of poverty and help find ways to give future generations more opportunities for success.
Many Washingtonians face terrible odds from the moment they are born. Children born into poverty may face hunger, homelessness, unsafe living conditions, and other barriers to success. While there is no single cause of poverty, being born to a low-income family is a very good indicator.
House Bill 2518, which passed on a strong 75-22 bipartisan vote, will establish the Intergenerational Poverty Reduction Commission to work with a diverse group of stakeholders on developing strategies that span two-generations, both parents and children, to reduce intergenerational poverty. The commission will provide an annual report to the governor, the Legislature and the legislative-executive WorkFirst Oversight Task Force with recommendations on how to break the cycle of poverty and end welfare dependency.
“Currently, we look at problems low-income families face and try to solve them one-by-one, generally only focusing on outcomes for parents,” Sawyer said. “Poverty shouldn’t be inherited. If we want to tackle the systemic problem of poverty we need to focus on the outcome for kids. This will be the first time the state takes a data-driven approach to finding the most efficient ways to break the cycle of poverty.”
The bill will call together all the agencies that provide services for low-income parents and kids — the Department of Social and Health Services, the Department of Early Learning, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, etc. — to work on the common mission of ending poverty.
“This is also about promoting government efficiency and saving the state money,” Sawyer said. “By identifying the most cost-effective ways to make the greatest impact in the lives of low-income Washington families, we can make sure we’re making the right investments in the right places.”
HB 2518 now goes to the Senate for consideration.