Anyone who knows the founder of Voices for Children, Kathy Bigsby Moore, is probably familiar with her common catch phrases. The phrase “in an ideal world” is usually followed by a statement about how things would be for Nebraska kids if we were able to fix it with some sort of magic wand. I was thinking about that today when I read this blog on poverty and saw this quote about our social safety net:
In an ideal world, families, churches, and volunteer organizations — exemplifying the idea that we Americans take care of our own without relying on government — would be the safety net. But the government safety net was expanded after 1960 because those institutions alone had proved inadequate. Nothing suggests they are capable of taking up the slack in the midst of the worst economic crisis in three-quarters of a century.
We too wish that we lived in this ideal world, but we recognize that we don’t. Not only would we likely lack basic infrastructure like roads and street signs without the government, but we would also lack an effective means of trying to keep children safe and fed when their parents cannot.
For much of the year, our social safety net has stood on precarious ground on both a federal and state level. As budgets grew tight, the fate of programs like food stamps and Medcaid hung in the balance. This will likely continue through much of 2012. Tough choices will still have to be made, and we hope that our leaders in Nebraska and in Washington continue to make these choices with values in mind.
We know that our leaders value children, but this value doesn’t always translate into making and preserving investments in them. We hope that 2012 will be a good year for Nebraska kids and that we preserve investments in the safety net that is keeping vulnerable children safe, healthy and fed this holiday season.