Child poverty fell to a historic low in Virginia last year. But, advocates are worried the numbers are about to spike.
A lot has happened since last year, when Virginia had record low child poverty. The child tax credit expired. Increases to food stamp benefits ended just as food prices soared. Then the rent-relief program came to an end and Virginia started kicking some people off Medicaid.
Rachael Deane at Voices for Virginia’s Children says the expiration of the social safety net means more children will be returned to a life in poverty.
“Decades of research show that when we have children who are resourced well enough in school, in home and in their communities, they have better outcomes across health, across educational success and across future employment,” Deane says.
Kim Bobo at the Virginia Poverty Law Center says there are several ways to prevent child poverty numbers from ticking back up.
“We could do our own child tax credit here in Virginia,” Bobo says. “We could do an earned income tax credit. We could increase TANF. We could cover all kids with health care. We could provide rental assistance to families. There are lots of things Virginia could do with the surplus that would address the child poverty crisis.”
All of those things could be accomplished with the record surplus money that’s now at issue in the ongoing budget impasse, she says, although lawmakers are still considering whether they want to spend it on tax cuts instead.