The head of the Utah Department of Workforce Services testified before the Senate Finance Committee in Washington, DC on Thursday about the state’s unique approach to intergenerational poverty.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Before introducing experts who would speak to the committee on welfare and poverty in America, Hatch emphasized that while Democrats and Republicans often differ in their approach, they all have an interest in trying to effectively ease poverty.
“Poverty is a critical challenge for our nation and far too often children end up being the primary victims," Hath said. "Recent official poverty statistics reveal that one out of every five children in the United States lives in poverty. That’s pathetic.”
Utah Workforce Services Executive Director Jon Pierpont was one of people who spoke to the committee. He explained how the state is using research and data to better understand the causes of intergenerational poverty.
“These efforts are not leading to new services or massive additional programs that incur more government spending," Pierpont said. "Rather, we are more effectively leveraging resources already in place in our communities and across both the public and private sectors. This alignment removes barriers for families working towards economic independence without burdening taxpayers with additional costs.”
He highlighted one such program they are piloting in an Ogden school called Next Generation Kids. It’s an effort to help parents get jobs and increase their skills, while also making sure that parents are able to meet the basic needs of their children. Pierpont also said it’s encouraging to see people outside of Utah take an interest in their research.