Spotlight Exclusives

More States Launch Poverty Reduction Task Forces

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In the first half of 2009, lawmakers in Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Virginia and the Virgin Islands launched anti-poverty task forces. Arkansas, Colorado, and Indiana set poverty reduction targets that set a numerical goal and a timeline for achieving the goal. With these three additions, the nation now has a total of twelve states with poverty reduction targets.

The new task-force states are the latest to join a growing wave of states that are taking a fresh look at poverty and opportunity. Since 2004, approximately 20 states have decided to establish a state-appointed task force. These commissions are by no means identical and are at varying stages of progress. In fact, some task forces have adjourned, while others have yet to meet. And while a few have issued policy recommendations, most are still developing their proposals.

The latest task forces began to spring up just as the recession started to strain state budgets and push more families into poverty. Although the economic downturn is expected to end later this year, new research from First Focus shows that policymakers will still have to address its long-term impact on children who fell into poverty during the recession. The report, Turning Point: The Long Term Effects of Recession-Induced Child Poverty, finds that these children “earn less, achieve lower levels of education, and are less likely to be gainfully employed over their lifetimes than those who avoided poverty. In addition, these children are more likely to be in poor health as adults”

There are those who ask if a poverty reduction task force can make a difference in a recession. While the recession makes the mission of task forces even more pressing, it also makes it more difficult to find funds for data collection, analysis, meetings, and reports. However, a thoughtful action plan discussed and debated while the issue is a top policy priority would place the state in a better position to implement anti-poverty policies and initiatives when recovery begins. Big, costly investments may need to wait, but now is the time to design new policies and to get old institutions to address poverty in new ways. These are critical front-end issues that typically take more time than moneyissues suited perfectly for an initial phase of a state poverty reduction task force.

Posted by Jodie


Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn۪t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and its impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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