Investing In The Future Essay Research Paper

Investing In The Future Essay, Research Paper

Investing in the Future

Tobin Lichti

Psych 101

Jon Drummond

TU 11:05

Welfare and school reform are two of the most widely discussed issues in

politics today. Many people are calling for reduction or elimination welfare

programs as well as programs that provide breakfast and lunch at schools. They

argue that people should be able to provide for themselves and their children

with minimal government assistance, and spending other people’s tax dollars to

assist the less fortunate only makes the problem worse. The main problem with

this line of thinking is that it forgets about the children involved. Children

have no control over what family they are born into. Many are born into

situations, such as single parent families, where the families have no way of

giving their children a good chance of developing into healthy, well adjusted

adults. Something must be done to break this cycle, because besides helping

children to develop to their full potential, government assistance “saves

society the costs incurred when intellectually and socially impaired children

grow up to be intellectually and socially impaired adults”(Collins 59).

The need for some sort of assistance for many children became obvious to

me on a volunteer project I did in high school. The summer after my junior year

I took a trip to San Antonio with about twenty other students. We were divided

between two different projects, and I went to work in a summer day-care program

in an underprivileged area. The day-care was for children aged infant to

eighteen, and on an average day about 175 children would come through. They

only had two full time workers, and relied on volunteer groups that came through

about once or twice a month to help them. They used to have more workers, but

lacked the funding necessary to keep anyone on permanently. Many of the

children were dropped off before the center opened at 8:00 in the morning, and

the meals they received at the center were the only meals they got all day.

Almost all the children showed a great need for attention and affection. It was

this experience that made me realize that many children grow up without a real

chance at a decent life.

Helping children early is crucial. Much research has been done recently

on early childhood development, and there is much evidence that there are

windows of learning for the development of vision, feelings, language and other

things. A window of learning means that there is a certain period of time in

child development when the brain “demands certain types of input in order to

create or stabilize certain long-lasting structures”(Nash 53). This type of

research backs up the idea that helping kids as early as possible is very

important in order to insure proper development. The problem that arises is

that there are many families, especially single parent ones, that cannot afford

to stay at home or provide their children with quality child care. The current

welfare system does allow states to let the mother care for the infant for as

long as a year before they must seek a job, but most states require it much

earlier, as early as 12 weeks after the infant is born (Collins 60). I would

propose a system where the mother would be given a year before having to look

for a job. During this time she, along with her husband if still married, would

be required to attend weekly classes or counseling sessions that would teach

them nutritional, educational, and other care that is essential for the child to

reach its full potential.

After the age of one, a government funded program of day care needs to

be set up. This would allow underprivileged families to afford decent child

care. This could also help the conditions of the day cares such as the one I

described in San Antonio improve, insuring that the children are provided with

adequate care. Federal regulations about things such as the ratio of staff to

children and safety standards would improve the environment the children grow up

in, and in many cases be better than living at home.

Another concern in the development of children is proper nutrition.

School lunch programs that provide free or reduced lunches help many children

get their only decent meal of the day. Many areas are starting to provide

school breakfast programs, and this is being met with much opposition. People

feel that they shouldn’t have to use tax dollars to provide a meal for children

that they should receive before they get to school. But, the sad truth is that

many children aren’t given breakfast before they are sent to school. Some

research suggests that eating breakfast helps children perform better during

school hours by increasing their attention and motivation. Test scores and

sports performance of children who eat breakfast on a regular basis tend to be

higher than those of children who don’t eat breakfast (Wardlaw & Insel 640).

Most of the opposition to programs like the one I have proposed is based

on money. People simply don’t feel that it is necessary for their hard earned

tax dollars to be used to raise other peoples children. They also point to the

fact that there is no hard evidence that these types of programs will really

work. However, there is a certain urgency for something to be done to break the

cycle of poverty and stagnation. In referring to programs for young children,

Isabel Sawhill, a scholar at the Urban Institute has written, “The evidence is

always mixed. We simply do not know whether they work. In these cases, one

must weigh the risk of doing something and having it not work against the risk

of doing nothing and missing an opportunity to improve lives. It can be just as

costly to not fund a potentially successful program as it is to fund a

potentially unsuccessful one” (Collins 62). Helping children today is an

investment in the future of our country, and the potential rewards outweigh the



Collins, James. “The Day Care Dilemma”. Time. 3 Feb 97, pp. 58-62.

Nash, J. Madeleine. “Fertile Minds”. Time. 3 Feb 97, pp. 48-56.

Wardlaw, Gordon M. & Insel, Paul M. Perspectives in Nutrition. 3rd edition

Mosby-Year Book, Inc. 1996, p 640


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