Our state legislators are faced with many difficult decisions this session. I’d like to highlight the Family Economic Security Act (FESA) because I don’t believe that our middle class family is very different from the one many of you have. We’ve had family members trying to live, keep a roof over their heads and raise young families on minimum wage jobs and no access to childcare. They live in poverty with no end in sight. I am asking our legislators to give serious attention to promoting the wellbeing and stability of our MN families who do live in poverty through the Family Economic Security Act (FESA). It was crafted from recommendations made by the bi-partisan Legislative Commission to End Poverty in Minnesota by 2020, a commission established in 2006 by the legislature.
It’s time that Minnesota addresses the growing poverty in our state with strategic investments. If followed, these recommendations could reduce poverty in MN by up to 27 percent. They promote conditions necessary for a stable home environment, critical to the wellbeing of families. The increase in the minimum wage, though still not meeting the level of $14 /hour defined as a living wage, would move families closer to being able to cover all of the expenses of a household with children.
Increasing access to child care is crucial to guaranteeing stable employment for parents, greatly expanding the self-sufficiency and economic stability of families. This would have compounding effects. Studies show that the stress of instability in the lives of young children (frequent moves, lack of food, or emotional trauma) can affect their brain development over time. FESA could help reduce the toxic stress in the lives of children in Minnesota.
The Family Economic Security Act (FESA) is an important step toward putting an end to poverty – so detrimental to families. Recently there are signs that our economic recovery is gaining steam, but this advantage is not shared by too many of our Minnesota families. We can do better! I call on our state legislators to support this important piece of legislation.
Jean MacFarland & Bill Keatts