The Youth Development Institute of Puerto Rico (YDI) submitted to the Puerto Rico’s Economic Development Taskforce a report with public policy recommendations and solutions to reduce childhood poverty, the group announced Wednesday.
The report, which received the endorsement of more than 100 community and professional organizations and public servants, provides a two-generation framework model (parents and children), focused in workforce development.
“If we want social and economic development for the [island], we need to start with our children and their families. More than 700,000 children live in high poverty areas and 58 percent of them live below poverty levels,” said Gloriann Sacha Antonetty, YDI Communications Director.
“Tackling poverty effectively requires a multi sector approach; rather than only finding ways of reducing childhood and youth poverty, we must also address the issue with their families,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ataveyra Medina-Hernández, YDI’s lead government affairs officer, said the entity is proposing the creation of an interagency taskforce lead by the Federal Department of Labor, which will work on an inventory of all the programs that serve our populations living under poverty levels.
“Along with an Advisory Council that includes members of the private and nonprofit sectors, the academy and the local government, this group must design and implement a structure that integrates all of these programs, expedites processes, avoids duplication and measures results,” she added.
This group will be responsible for:
- Coordinating and monitoring the implementation of anti poverty programs, processes to expedite services and result measurement efforts from a workforce development perspective.
- Identifying and integrating members from the government and private sector along with non-profit organizations that can improve the coordination and effectiveness of the programs servicing youth and families.
- Proposing public policy and legislation that stimulates workforce participation while developing an incentive system in Puerto Rico that protects vulnerable populations.
- Identifying available strategies, tools and resources to promote community based efforts that are effective in reducing childhood poverty.
- Creating and Advisory Council that includes representation from U.S. Congress and the federal government, and nonprofits and universities from the mainland and Puerto Rico that focus on reducing childhood poverty.
The two-generation framework that YDI proposes fosters a pathway to work with youth from the prenatal stage up until adulthood, guaranteeing the necessary skills and development for them to be successful and achieve economic security.
At the same time, there are programs recommended to strengthen the skills of parents and caregivers so they can cover the needs of their families and take an active role in the country’s economic and social development.
Some of the policies and programs included are geared toward: prenatal care; home visiting initiatives; Head Start and Child Care; Medicaid funding parity; Earned Income Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; financial planning; trainings for adults and youngsters through the Workforce Investment Act; housing programs through U.S. Housing and Urban Development; Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); mentoring and academic programs for youngsters; and entrepreneurial skills as well as post secondary education access programs, among others.
During recent weeks, as part of the advocacy efforts to guarantee the wellbeing and economic security of the families in Puerto Rico, the YDI presented the report at individual meetings with Congressmen and woman who are members of this taskforce.
This reports encompasses recommendations and strategies from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Puerto Rico Multi Sector Council for Early Childhood, Open Spaces, the Urban Institute, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Center for a New Economy, among other organizations, YDI officials said.
The effectiveness and impact of the action plan of this group will be measured based on the following progress indicators: A reduction in the percentage of childhood poverty; an increase in workforce participation rates; an increase in the amount of self-employed individuals, and an increase in academic proficiency, YDI said.