But despite these advances, not many pull a shorter straw than a poor child in Pennsylvania. And the fact of the matter is we have far more poor children than ever. In 2010, more than one in five children lived in poverty in this country. In Pennsylvania, the poverty rate rose from 10.7 percent in 2007-2008 to 11.7 percent in 2009-2010.
The bad economy has chipped away at incomes, increasing disparity in wealth with gaps that seem insurmountable. That’s a national problem, not limited to Pennsylvania, but the state, especially the current administration, contributes to this problem with policies like means-testing for food stamps, overall cuts to education that harm the poorest districts (like ours), and cuts that kicked nearly a million children off Medicaid. The latest budget, with further cuts to social services, won’t help.
So, no, we are not doing what we can for kids. At best, we are leaving them and their families to fend for themselves. At worst, a mean-spiritedness about the most vulnerable pervades many public conversations about the poor. We are hardly united in our commitment to future generations.
The city is blessed by people like Yanoff who fight against the odds, and tilt against the windmills that turn easily for the rich but less so for the rest of us. Elected leaders should not be let off the hook by their efforts. (PCCY is privately funded by foundations and donations.)
Yanoff’s resignation might be a good opportunity for the Nutter administration to take data-driven measures on the state of children in this city. Until it disbanded in 2008, the Safe and Sound agency created useful report cards on the state of children’s well-being in health, education, safety and other areas. Such a snapshot would be helpful for the future — no matter how ugly the picture might turn out to be. n