One of the most serious problems facing Maine today is the growing rate of children that have fallen into deep poverty in recent years. Families who struggle to scrape by on $10,000/year or less (for a family of 3) are considered to be in deep poverty. By this measure, Maine children are losing ground compared to children in the rest of the nation.
Between 2011 and 2016, the percentage of Maine children living in deep poverty has increased at a rate 8 times greater than the national average. Yet during this same time, assistance intended to help families with children move out of poverty has been significantly reduced and limited.
Speaker of the House Sara Gideon aims to solve this problem by sponsoring, An Act to Reduce Child Poverty by Leveraging Investments in Families Today (LIFT) that will reduce deep child poverty and create opportunity for Maine families. Speaker Gideon’s bill takes a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach that will:
stabilize families by raising woefully inadequate benefit levels and addressing the housing crisis that leaves so many families at risk of homelessness;
break down barriers to work, such as the “welfare cliff” and the high costs of child care and transportation and expand opportunity to higher education; and
create benchmarks to hold government accountable for administering public programs that truly achieve the goal of reducing poverty.