Policy Priorities

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Ending Child Poverty

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Ending Child Poverty

More than 14.7 million children in America were poor in 2013, with the majority in working families. A disproportionate number are Black and Latino. Poor children lag behind their peers in many ways beyond income: They are less healthy, trail in emotional and intellectual development, and are less likely to graduate from high school. Poor children also are more likely to become the poor parents of the future. Every year that we keep children in poverty costs our nation half a trillion dollars in lost productivity, poorer health and increased costs of the criminal justice system.

Our vision is to end child poverty. We must invest in high quality early childhood services and K-12 education for every child, livable wages for families, safety nets like nutrition and housing assistance, the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits, and work supports like child care and health coverage.

Investments in America’s Children Reduce Child Poverty

Last year federal safety net programs kept 8.2 million children out of poverty, cutting child poverty by 40 percent.  Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on October 16th show that safety net programs like tax credits for working families, nutrition and housing assistance, Social Security and other federal programs kept 8.2 million children, more than 11 percent of America’s children, out of poverty in 2013. Read more about how these investments help protect children from poverty.

Data on Child Poverty

The latest official data on child poverty released September 16, 2014 shows that while child poverty dropped from 2012 to 2013 for the first time since 2000, nearly one in five children remain poor. Child poverty decreased for Hispanic, White and Asian children, but Black children saw no change and continue to have the highest child poverty rate. Despite some decreases child poverty among all children remains at shamefully high levels. Nearly one in five children – 14.7 million – were poor in 2013, and children remain the poorest age group in the country. Although 1.5 million fewer children were poor in 2013, there were still 1.3 million more poor children than in 2007 before the recession began. Read more here.

Child Poverty in the States

Data released September 18, 2014 revealed that in 42 states child poverty remained higher in 2013 than before the recession. Children of color and younger children continue to have the highest poverty rates. In 20 states more than 40 percent of Black children are poor and in 35 states more than 30 percent of Hispanic children are poor. In 21 states more than 25 percent of children under 6 are poor at the time of greatest brain development. Read more here and download an excel file with data here.

Children of Hard Times

Child poverty remains at record high levels with children remaining the poorest age group in 2012 and more than one out of five children are poor. Marian Wright Edelman with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Julia Cass chronicles the new faces of poverty through the “Children of Hard Times”. Traveling across the heartland of America, Ms. Cass reports the desperate toll poverty takes on children and their parents. The stories offer fresh insight into the daily struggle to provide food and shelter, health care and educational support, and find stable employment paying a livable wage in the United States in 2011. Read their stories and CDF’s response to the sharp increase in child poverty.

Children of Hard Times: New Faces of Child Poverty

Elijah Lynch

The Lynch Family
Columbus, Ohio

Tristan Dickens The Harris Boys Levi Nation

The Dickens Family
Detroit, Michigan

The Harris Family
Columbus, Ohio

The Nation Family
Kalkaska County, Michigan

Serenity, Daniel, Aaron, and Ayden Hanebuth Toni Thomas Anjerrica, Daryanna, and Jaeda Barrett

The Hanebuth Family
Middletown, Ohio

The Thomas/Dinwiddie Family
Detroit, Michigan

The Barrett Family
New Orleans, Louisiana

Christopher Rogers Amanda & Emily Nailor Kyleigh & Aidan Bundy

The Rogers/Cohen Family
Cincinnati, Ohio

The Nailor Family
Evart, Michigan

The Bundy Family
Dowagiac, Michigan

Haleigh & Lindsey Harper Sydney & Brittanie Potter Skyler & Zachery McKee

The Harper Family
Columbus, Ohio

The Potter Family
Marion, Ohio

The McKee Family
Dowagiac, Michigan

Ms. Cass also contributed to writing CDF’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline® report. More recently she wrote Held Captive: Child Poverty in America for CDF.

Marian Wright Edelman House Budget Committee Hearing Testimony

On Wednesday, April 30, 2014, Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, testified before the House Budget Committee on the impact of the War on Poverty on children and how our nation can finish the job started by President Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago. View and read her oral statement, read her full written testimony, and watch the entire hearing here.

Vanishing American Dream for Young People and Young Families with Children

These briefs by Northeastern University economics professor Andy Sum highlight the toll unemployment and poverty have taken on young people and young families with children in the past decade, and the long-term effects this economic crisis will have on America’s future workforce and its economic prosperity. Young families with children have been hit the hardest in what has been called “The Lost Decade” with close to two out of three families living in poverty. Deteriorating earnings for young adults since 1979 have affected their ability to form independent households, reduced marriage rates and increased the share of college graduates living at home. Nearly two million jobs have disappeared from the economy and rampant unemployment, hidden unemployment and mal-employment have affected the earnings of all young workers. This emerging national crisis has long-term social and economic consequences for the nation. Click here to read these briefs.

Carsey Institute Report on Child Poverty

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute have released a report which details the demographic breakdowns of child poverty in America. The report finds that young children of color in rural areas or single parent families are the most vulnerable to the effects of poverty. Read the full report here.