A CHIEF concern of the working poor is health care.
Those with jobs that offer little in the way of wages and benefits, and who do not qualify for Medicaid, do not get the kind of preventive medical care necessary to keep themselves, and their children, healthy.
Fortunately, help is available. A federal program, called Healthy Start, extends Medicaid benefits to the working poor. It provides prenatal care to expectant mothers, care following birth and health care for children up to age 6.
Unfortunately, people are not taking advantage of it.
Healthy Start can help make sure that babies are born healthy, and that they stay healthy. By providing the care that can prevent future illnesses and health problems, the program also can save money down the road.
Officials must do all they can to get out the word and to sign up eligible families.
Some families may not know about the program; others may not want to apply because of the "welfare stigma" associated with such programs.
But ignorance and pride won't help an underweight baby or cure a 4-year-old's measles. Only proper health care will.
Parents owe it to their children to find out all they can about what help is available and then to get it. It's a basic obligation that comes with the decision to have a family in the first place.