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USU professor on panel to study poverty causes and solutions

A Utah State State University professor who specializes in early childhood education is part of a statewide commission charged with finding answers to help eliminate poverty in Utah.

Ray Reutzel has nearly 40 years experience in childhood education and development. Today he’s the Emma Eccles Jones Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Literacy. His research highlights multiple factors that can contribute to poverty from one generation to the next, including single parenthood and low maternal education.

Reutzel says the panel expects to find the more obvious predictors of poverty in Utah families, like jobs and education issues. But he says there are many more subtle indicators that can lead to problems, including nutrition, neighborhoods, even civic planning.

The commission was created by Senate Bill 53 in the 2013 legislative session. The group is tasked with sharing data and information, studying programs, increasing coordination between the agencies, organizations and other stakeholders and implementing improvements, according to a news release.

The professor will be joining experts from other state agencies including workforce services, education and health and human services to look for ways to keep poverty at bay.

Listen to excerpts from our interview with Reutzel above.