A while ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg started a project called "Opportunity NYC", which primarily focused on rewarding poor families for good behavior. The program offered up to $14 million to about 2,400 families around the NY area. Families would get money if they stayed employed, get medical insurance, get dental checkups, & maintained their savings accounts. Even high school kids got money for passing Regents exams! Unfortunately, the results of the project have been pretty mixed. Some families did well, some didn't. I wonder why.
The results showed there wasn't much differentiation between those who under the program and those who weren't. A few more families saw the dentist twice a year and only 1% more had health insurance. Regarding students, the ones under the program were 8% more likely to pass the Regents than those without money. This comes to show that money doesn't always motivate everyone to be successful. There are probably a lot of problems when it comes to this program. Was it communicated effectively? Was it easy to understand? Were the goals reasonable? Didn't Bloomberg think this through before starting it? Another thing to point out is that Opportunity NYC had VIRTUALLY NO effect on elementary & middle school kids whatsoever.
Here's the thing: poverty cannot simply be eliminated by spending money. No matter how much money you try to give people, they may not have the mindset to achieve the goals needed to earn that money. You really can't assume that ALL people in poverty are smart enough or care enough to do the things that you want them to do. People sometimes do things for quick cash and that's it. Are you providing any further incentives, like earn more while you do more? Though the long-term problem with this is that the government will have to be "obligated" to provide for poor people and end up adding even more to their own budget crisis (alas the MTA). That just leads to more suffering for New Yorkers in general.
The bottom line is this: there needs to be a re-focus on education. Education is one of the main solutions (if not, the main) for poverty. Education helps us to critically think for ourselves and enables us to live better lifestyles. Why isn't there a proper investment in education? You want to know why we're lagging behind other countries? Because we never bothered to put our investments back in education for the next generation & beyond. Education & also job creation helps to eliminate poverty. Invest in human capital and in return, they can do wonders for you & the country as a whole. Someone needs to step up and take a stand for a huge educational intervention in New York (and the U.S. in general). Poverty is a very serious issue and it's not something you can get rid of with monetized incentives.
ParentJobNet will do what it can to help parents living in poverty. We believe in education & its wonderful ability to enhance people's lives. Let's hope certain officials realize the same.