Breaking: L.A. Rams Heading to Super Bowl After Victory Over Saints

California Should Spend $1.6B More Next Year to Combat Child Poverty Crisis, New Task Force Finds

Cianna Allen, 8, is examined by Dr. Patricia Campbell at St. John's Wellness & Family Center in Los Angeles in this undated photo. Cianna'€s mother says they have lived in their car and stayed at the Union Rescue Mission. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Cianna Allen, 8, is examined by Dr. Patricia Campbell at St. John's Wellness & Family Center in Los Angeles in this undated photo. Cianna'€s mother says they have lived in their car and stayed at the Union Rescue Mission. (Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

California must significantly increase the money it spends on child care, food assistance and other social services — by as much as $1.6 billion in the first year alone — to narrow an income divide that has left almost 2 million children living below the poverty line, a new state task force said Monday.

The group, assembled by state government last year to address the child poverty crisis, is calling on Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom to earmark money in next year’s state budget for expansion of antipoverty programs. It has crafted a plan to phase in nearly $14 billion for the efforts over the next decade, saying the savings to the state will balance out the costs in the long term.

Task force members say the recommendations in their first report are meant to strengthen the social safety net for low-income families and could help create better living conditions for as many as 450,000 of the most impoverished children in the state over the next four years alone. The group hopes to find an ally in Newsom, who has vowed to combat homelessness and closed out his winning campaign with a focus on the needs of the youngest Californians.

“The elements of real change are coming together,” said Conway Collis, co-chairman of the task force and a former member of the state Board of Equalization. Child poverty “is both a human and a fiscal crisis of the state, and this report provides a road map to address both of those issues.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.