The Center for American Progress released a report this week, Reducing Student Poverty in the Classroom, that acknowledges families living in poverty often face barriers when it comes to accessing government services or programs. These include:
- Lack of outreach and accessible information about the programs
- Transportation challenges of visiting and signing up for these programs at different (and sometimes remote) locations
- Burdensome application requirements, such as unnecessary repeat visits to program offices and unnecessary document requests
- The stigma associated with applying for programs
These barriers are why our City Connects School Site Coordinators fill such a crucial role. Daily, they are working with families to alleviate these obstacles and help them access services to promote the healthy development of their children. In academic year 2008-09, our School Site Coordinators connected 3,000 Boston Public School students to 11,365 services.
The report’s authors write, “Schools are ideal locations because they have unparalleled access to poor students and their families—they are located in the neighborhoods in which families live, are recognized and familiar community institutions, and have established relationships with low-income students and their families.”
Based on the access and trust schools have, the authors created a set of recommendations for Congress to help address poverty:
- Attach to an appropriations bill (or other vehicle) a requirement that relevant federal administrative agencies produce a report to Congress that outlines a plan for expanding the use of central connection points and simplifying and consolidating public benefit application requirements. These efforts should include advancing school-based antipoverty strategies.
- The White House Domestic Policy Council and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships get involved in efforts to develop a plan and take a leadership role to help spur Congress to action.
- Invest in community school models and create a new innovation fund designed to explore the potential benefits of delivering public benefits through schools.
- State and local governments establish inter-agency committees to replicate and expand upon existing school-based antipoverty models and maintain new modes of providing services through schools.
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