STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Child poverty and Obama's first 100 days in office

Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio

Now that the election is over and we know who will be sitting in the Oval Office for the next four years, it seems like a good time to take a look at a letter President Obama wrote in response to this question:

What will you pledge to do in your first 100 days to address childhood poverty?

That was one of three questions put forth by six child advocates to both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign. (Obama respondedwith a two-page letter; Romney declined to respond.)

So let's see what's on Mr. Obama's agenda for those first 100 days. Here's the full text of his response to the above mentioned letter:

I will continue efforts to invest in early childhood education and to reform these programs to strengthen their quality. I am also proud to say that the Affordable Care Act is already well on the way to bringing access to comprehensive and preventive health care to millions of children who have, until now, been locked out. I will continue to fight for a solution to our budget challenges that allows us to continue to invest in things, like education and training, to move our economy forward in ways that lead to greater opportunity and shared prosperity. And I will continue to invest in opportunities for all hard-working Americans to enter the middle class. I am committed to reforming our tax code to prevent a tax increase on families making less than $250,000 a year, including an extension of the tax cuts for working families included in the Recovery Act. I have proposed steps in the American Jobs Act that will accelerate the recovery and create nearly 1 million jobs. The plan would help states keep up to 325,000 teachers, as well as thousands of police officers and firefighters, on the job. I am also calling for immediate new investments to repair crumbling schools, roads, and bridges that would put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work now and strengthen our economy for the long term.

As for the President's long-term vision for how to help children in poverty, Mr. Obama mentioned his Race to the Top initiatives, and a goal to "cut the growth of college tuition in half." He also emphasized the need to "transform high-poverty neighborhoods" and points to his administration's support for the Promise Neighborhood program, which is based on the successful Harlem Children's Zoneand aims to help disadvantaged children both inside and outside the classroom.

No doubt child advocates have printed out a copy of Mr. Obama's letter, tacked it up on their refrigerators, and are eagerly waiting to see if he follows through with his promises.

Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and worked as a producer for WFUV in the Bronx.