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CDF-NY End Child Poverty Now Campaign

About the Campaign

No child should have to worry about where their next meal will come from or whether they will have a place to sleep each night in the wealthiest nation on earth. Yet more than 12.8 million children in America— about 1 in 5— live in poverty and face these harsh realities every day. More than 2 in 3 poor children are children of color, and our youngest children are our poorest. In New York, nearly 1 in 5 children lives in poverty, more than 3 in 10 Black children live in poverty, and over 14 percent of households struggle against food hardship. It is clear we are failing our children and nation. Poverty decreases a child’s chances of graduating from high school and increases their chances of becoming a poor adult. It makes a child more likely to suffer illnesses and get caught in the criminal justice system. Beyond its human costs, child poverty has huge economic costs. Our nation loses about $700 billion a year due to lost productivity and increased health and crime costs stemming from child poverty.

Child poverty is an urgent and preventable crisis. Solutions to child poverty in our nation already exist if we just expand and invest in them. In 2015, the Children’s Defense Fund published our groundbreaking report Ending Child Poverty Now, which showed how America could immediately lift millions of children out of poverty by simply improving and investing in policies and programs that work. Four years later, the second edition of Ending Child Poverty Now (2019) updates our earlier study and issues another call for an immediate reduction in child poverty. We find it unacceptable and unconscionable that our leaders are still debating and poor children are still waiting. How many more studies and reports will it take before our leaders acknowledge that we know what to do and can start right now?

By investing an additional 1.4 percent of our federal budget into existing programs and policies, we can cut child poverty at least 57 percent nationally and 58 percent in New York, lift 5.5 million children out of poverty, and help 95 percent of all poor children. CDF identified nine policy improvements that could be enacted immediately to increase employment, make work pay, and meet children’s basic survival needs for food, housing, and child support. CDF then commissioned the Urban Institute to estimate the child poverty impacts and costs of these policy improvements. According to the Urban Institute, these combined policy improvements could substantially reduce child poverty as measured by the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which accounts for the impact of government benefits and tax policy on families.

In New York’s legislative session, there were several policy proposals that were not ultimately included in the final 2019 legislative budget but that reflect the provisions discussed in the Ending Child Poverty Now national report. If enacted, New York would be able to keep more children out of poverty. These proposals include:

  • Expand health coverage for all New Yorkers up to 200% of FPL who are currently excluded from coverage because of their immigration status
  • Improve New York’s EITC by increasing the percentage of the federal tax credit paid to families from 30% to 40%
  • Expand the New York child care tax credit to include children under age 4 and double the credit available for families with young children
  • Provide funding for child care subsidies for all eligible families

The Children’s Defense Fund is urging Congress to act now to implement the federal policy improvements outlined in the report to make a substantial down payment on ending child poverty for all children.

Get Involved

We can easily afford these investments, which would improve the odds for millions of children and help recover much of the nearly $700 billion our national economy loses each year due to child poverty’s effects on productivity, public health, and crime. Let’s act now to end child poverty in America. Congress can begin by enacting the following federal policy improvements to lift 5.5 million children out of poverty:

  1. Create transitional jobs for unemployed and underemployed individuals ages 16-64 in families with children.
  2. Increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00 by 2024.
  3. Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for lower-income families with children.
  4. Make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable with additional benefits for families with young children.
  5. Make child care subsidies available to all eligible families below 150 percent of poverty with no co-pays.
  6. Make the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable with a higher reimbursement rate.
  7. Determine Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits based on USDA’s Low-Cost Food Plan for families with children and increase benefits by 31 percent.
  8. Make housing vouchers available to all households with children below 150 percent of poverty for whom fair market rent exceeds 50 percent of their income.
  9. Require child support to be fully passed-through to families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), fully disregarded for TANF benefits and partially disregarded for SNAP benefits.

Congress isn’t the only place where action is needed. Many of these policies and programs have state and local counterparts that can progress without federal action. New York State, counties, cities, and towns can set an example for our entire nation. New York is already on track to raise the minimum wage to $15.00. It is up to all of us— parents, grandparents, teachers, students, faith leaders, and advocates— to create a call to end child poverty so widespread and resonant it cannot be ignored. There is no excuse for inaction. Every community and individual concerned about our children’s future must stand up and call for steps to end child poverty now.


Ending Child Poverty Now Report (2019)