“I think the question is, how do you operationalize those goals in a comprehensive way?” Crompton said. “It will take us forever to get something done unless we look at a total systems approach.”
Reid, who will not seek re-election, said a number of state lawmakers have offered to continue to work on the issues of intergenerational poverty and dependency on public assistance, including Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork; Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, and Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper.
Henderson, a freshman senator, said there has been a growing awareness of the issue during her time in office thanks to Reid's leadership. Legislative leaders, department heads, nonprofit agency directors now understand that intergenerational poverty needs to be addressed differently than people who seek public assistance during brief, isolated incidents in their lives, she said.
Education is the key strategy to breaking cycles of poverty and public assistance dependency, she said. One of her great disappointments during the session was that Osmond’s bill on preschool for impoverished children did not pass.
“We know who all of these children are. Education is key with these kids, making sure they have all the educational tools they need to survive and thrive in this world,” she said.
Linda Hilton, director of the Coalition of Religious Communities, who is not a member of the advisory committee, said livable wages and access to health care must also be part of the conversation.
“If one or both of those were shored up, a lot of people would take a great leap out of poverty,” said Hilton.
Crompton says approaching the issue on the community level may be the next logical step. Voices for Utah Children will soon release a report that examines intergenerational poverty at a community level in Salt Lake, Weber and Davis counties, she said.
Reid said he has set the stage for ongoing work on the issue. His hope is that lawmakers who come after him will build upon his vision of the importance of giving children the knowledge and wherewithal they need to succeed in school and in life.
“If we can get through the educational process, they feel a sense of confidence and success. Then, they can do anything.”
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