Catholic Charities USA Launches Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America
Throughout the year, the Alliance for Children and Families will promote programs, ideas, and activities sponsored by national organizations that support the core values inherent in National Family Week (NFW). These organizations reinforce the NFW objective to strengthen children and families, especially those who are vulnerable.
Catholic Charities USA earlier this month announced a new multi-year initiative to cut poverty in half by 2020, urging Congress and the Administration to give a much higher priority to the needs of the poor in budget and policy decisions on issues such as health care, housing, nutrition, and economic security.
“Poverty is a moral and social wound on the soul of our country and threatens the health and economic well-being of both families and our nation,” Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said at a briefing this morning on Capitol Hill. “We must marshal the strength and the collective will of our nation to take on this tragedy that affects 37 million people who are living in poverty in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.”
“The Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America is about who we are as a nation,” Father Snyder said. “We must no longer ignore the injustice of poverty and the extreme inequality in America and instead must seize this opportunity to advocate for changes that promote human dignity and the common good.”
The goal of Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America is to cut the poverty rate in the United States in half by 2020. Catholic Charities USA is leading a broad effort that will involve partners in social service agencies, the faith community, and other groups in a sustained effort to convince government officials of the importance of making systemic changes in government programs to help the poor and most vulnerable in our society. Last year, the Boys & Girls Club of America set a goal of teaching financial literacy skills to over 86,000 teenagers across the country. Teens have already commented that the program has influenced them to become more careful and responsible with money, open and start a savings account and learn how to budget.
Specific policy areas of focus for Congressional action as part of the Campaign to Reduce Poverty include the following:
Provide adequate funding for health care for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
Maintain the integrity and strength of the Medicaid program.
Remove new restrictions to Medicaid that create barriers for low-income families.
Provide adequate funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) program to expand coverage for all eligible children.
Reform SCHIP to make it easier for eligible children to apply.
Support policies that provide integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Provide adequate funding for federally subsidized housing programs.
Support and strengthen programs aimed at increasing homeownership.
Establish a National Housing Trust Fund.
Support comprehensive reform of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Program.
HUNGER AND NUTRITION
Strengthen the Food Stamp Program to better assist the working poor and the elderly.
Protect funding for critical food programs that serve low-income families, including the
Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Community Food and Nutrition Program.
Ensure that federal nutrition programs meet the unique needs of rural families.
FAMILY ECONOMIC SECURITY
Increase the minimum wage and ensure that it is automatically increased to keep pace with inflation.
Improve the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to benefit more families.
Promote policies that support and strengthen families, including low-income fathers.
Expand employment and training opportunities for low-income workers.
Improve the protection and care of abused, neglected, and abandoned children and youth.
Provide adequate funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).
Ensure access to quality early education for all children.
Improve the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to be more inclusive for more workers.
Preserve funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).
Support comprehensive immigration reform that protects vulnerable families.
Key components of the campaign will include sustained and comprehensive outreach to the Administration and Congress as well as activities in local communities throughout the country on the need for action to reduce poverty.
Catholic Charities USA’s members—more than 1,700 local agencies and institutions nationwide—provide help and create hope for more than 7.1 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. For more than 275 years, local Catholic Charities agencies have been providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from day care and counseling to food and housing. For more information, visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.