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Op-Ed: Childhood Poverty is a Community Crisis

With Mother’s Day and Father's Day just behind us, parents have been on my mind lately.  

We know parents are critical to children’s development. Children need stability and nurturing relationships, especially during those crucial early years. We also know that children are critical to their parents' ongoing development. When children are sick, having difficulties at school, or experiencing other problems, parents working in jobs without paid leave may not be able to fully attend to them without compromising their employment. Further, unpredictable work schedules often require parents to rely on unstable or low-quality child care arrangements.  

For the most part, Greater Cincinnatians agree on this information, yet properly supporting working parents with young children, who often live in poverty, continues to be a community-wide struggle.  

In recent months, much attention has been paid to the high rates of childhood poverty in Greater Cincinnati.  This is a problem that needs a spotlight. Despite the collective efforts of our community to improve children’s lives, poverty persists. That is why we must also persist.  

While this topic might be “new news” to some, the topic and the solutions for overcoming this complex challenge are not new to Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission (NKCAC).  

50 years ago, NKCAC was founded to “wage war on poverty”. Daily we win battles, but clearly the war continues. Our staff builds an individualized, integrated, and comprehensive approach designed to meet families where they are and help them along a pathway to self-reliance. More times than not, two or three or four of our services, along with partners’ programs, too, are needed to form the pathway, and sometimes these services must be provided more than once. Childhood poverty is a community crisis with no single solution. Results are slow, intensive, and not easily replicated, but we know comprehensive interventions work.  

Time and time again, services provided by NKCAC have succeeded in disrupting the cycle of poverty. As an Agency, we strive for continuous improvement and help families celebrate the small and large successes along their path to self-reliance. The issues facing low-income families striving to improve their futures needs a spotlight and we are thankful this issue is receiving the attention it deserves. Innovative thinking and integrated resources are key to making a difference.

And so are agencies like NKCAC who have a history of successfully fighting this war.   

At Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission we are ready to help as our community tackles these complicated issues both with new approaches and the blending of those that have shown results for years. If you are a researcher, practitioner, policymaker, a member of the media, or funder, please help us continue to shine a bright light on the issue of childhood poverty. Our children are counting on it.

Written by Florence Tandy, executive director of NKCAC