A House committee unanimously passed SB43 to provide $5 million in grants to fund after-school programs to help children in intergenerational poverty.
Bill sponsor Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, said children who grow up in impoverished circumstances do not do as well in school and drop out at higher rates which can lead to substance abuse, crime, teen pregnancy and other problems which cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. He said the after-school programs will provide extra assistance during the school year to help these children be more competitive and keep up with their classmates.
Utah Eagle Forum president Gayle Ruzicka said she supports the bill because it provides individualized education for students by their teachers and not just somewhere to be because the children have no better place to go.
"This is about educating the child and giving them the best place they can go to for the education, that extra help, that tutoring that they need," Ruzicka said.
Karen Crompton, president of Voices for Utah Children said youngsters who start behind in school will not catch up without help.
"We all want people to climb the ladder of success, but if we really want that we need to make sure they can at least get to the first rung and this kind of proposal is one of those things," Crompton said. "Will it solve intergenerational poverty? No, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something and it will mean the world to these kids."
State schools superintendent Martell Menlove said the Utah State Board of Education supports the bill and he believes this bill will have an impact.
The bill already has passed the Senate but has now been returned to House Rules to await lawmakers’ decisions on funding priorities.
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