Sisters of St. Joseph Act to Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty 
By Betty Cawley, CSJ, Justice Promoter

We CSJs are active in the coalition Lift Our Kids Out of Deep PovertyThe current campaign seeks to gradually raise the grant for those receiving Temporary Assistance for Families with Dependent Children [TAFDC] to a level that would bring them up to 50% of the federal poverty level. Our advocacy is one of the ways we carry out the statement in our Constitution: ”We stand with the poor in the struggle for justice, incarnating hope, by seeking to improve the quality of human life.” We do this “through direct service,” but also “through indirect service and efforts at systemic change which improve the quality of life for those who are poor.” [Constitution, Spirit and Purpose # 8 and 8-1]

Systemic change is hard work.  No one of us would think that we could take on the root causes of issues single-handedly. One way is by lobbying our state and federal legislators. Our local legislative advocacy has been directly connected to the poor—specifically to those receiving TAFDC.  In the earlier Lift the Cap campaign, we successfully lobbied for a small amount of cash assistance that was being denied to some people. All these people are now receiving what is due them, and it is making a difference for them, however small.

As part of the current Lift Our Kids Out of Deep Poverty campaign, sisters, associates and agrégées brought kids shoes and socks to a recent Congregation Gathering. These donations were among those displayed at a State House event on February 4th in support of legislation that would increase grants to families on TAFDC. The footwear was then distributed to agencies that support these families.

Several sisters and associates participated in the State House event. These shoes, sneakers and socks are a symbol; they stand for what those on TAFDC can’t afford, given our current economic gap. Even this bill, however helpful, is not fundamentally changing the system or, as NETWORK put is, “mending the gap.” However, it is another step in the right direction.