The United States is the richest nation in the history of the world and is currently the world’s only superpower. Yet in some very important ways, such as the percentage of children who live in poverty, our children’s educational success, or even how long we live, we are not even in the top 25, ranking behind countries like Latvia, Bosnia, and Jordan. It is time for the United States to take the lead again in supporting its children. Many pay lip service to the notion that “our children are our future;” now we must act like we mean it.
Here in Wisconsin, we have historically made investments in children and families that have made this a great place to grow, learn, and raise a family. When it comes to child well-being, we have historically been a top tier state. Wisconsin was ranked the 12th best state in 2013 by the Annie E Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT project. Wisconsin is a state that values cooperation and historically has been willing to invest in providing opportunities for success. But there are troubling signs. Childhood poverty is increasing in Wisconsin faster than the national rate. Milwaukee has the fourth-highest level of concentrated poverty of any large city in America, and we have huge racial disparities in child poverty rates.