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From before cradle to grave

From before cradle to grave

| Text: Berit Kvam

If the new president asked: What would you recommend to really combat poverty?

Gayle Hamilton and James Riccio, are senior researchers at MDRC. An answer doesn't come easy. They only want to recommend what they have tested and proved to work. They would not  recommend Opportunity NYC, because they don't yet know if it will work. They are testing it now.
After more than 25 years of experience at MDRC they also have other ideas that could be tested. So what would they suggest could be tried to break the cycle of poverty?
“It would have to be a combination of things”, says Gayle Hamilton, and continues:
“You have to start before the baby is born beginning with a program that provides good prenatal care for low income pregnant women, then a program that provides high quality child care, and a universal high quality preschool programme.
You know I am following the child, because some of the factors effecting poverty start when they are very young”, says Gayle Hamilton.
“So an improved public school system, providing good schools offering higher quality education, especially in low-income neighbourhoods, a program to encourage kids to complete high school, and to encourage and support particularly low-income students to attend and to finish their college education.
Then a program that can provide good career advice, and a program to make work pay more. It could be by applying the minimum wage or by other financial supplements like income tax credit.
Then try to adapt a universal health care system, which we don't have in this country, and to provide more support for people with disabilities to get into the labour market.
Further, to provide counselling for those already in work, and perhaps financial incentives to help them move up the career ladder.
All of these strategies have promise. The challenge is, first, to actually test which of these strategies make a difference in poverty and, second, to test different ways of carrying them out, so we can discern how they can be implemented to make the biggest difference in people's lives,” says Gayle Hamilton.



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