In the Providence Journal this week, Wendy P. Warcholik and J. Scott Moody write, “This growing number of children in Rhode Island without a solid familial foundation should give us all pause. This is not a problem that is going to just go away, and we must find ways to help these children before tragedy strikes, perhaps in your own neighborhood.” The Center has partnered with Family Prosperity Initiative and co-produced a deep study exploring the state’s most immediate economic and social problems. What if we were to realize that our state’s long-held public policy approach-which mainly seeks to address the material hardships of our state’s residents-has actually led to the unintended consequence of harming real people by ignoring their cultural and familial needs?
Everyone concerned about the well-being of our state’s families should be alarmed by our unacceptable 45th-place ranking on the Family Prosperity Index (FPI). The FPI demonstrates quantitatively the undeniable link between economic and social policy in determining family prosperity. We must make helping families the focus of our public policy and private advocacy. Lawmakers can become heroes if they can construct policies that actually address the real needs of real families.
A more holistic measure than the one-dimensional unemployment rate or GDP, which only considers economic data, the FPI makes it possible to measure U.S. progress every year and rate states against each other according to how well they are providing an environment for families to flourish. Instead of greater tax burdens on families and increased mandates on small businesses, broad-based relief that opens the door for more and better businesses to create more and better jobs is what we need if we want a better quality of life for Rhode Island families.
Rhode Islanders must say that enough is enough before the next tragedy strikes. We must demand that the status quo changes, before it is too late. Your voice is powerful. By engaging in the public debate you can make sure to have a seat at the table. Now is not the time to be on the sidelines. The broken system in the Ocean State has kept too many people out of the process. Now is the time for change, things do not have to be this way.