Ending Child Poverty

More than 14.7 million children in America were poor in 2013, with more than two-thirds in working families. A disproportionate number are Black and Latino. Poor children often lag behind their peers in many ways beyond income: They are often less healthy, can trail in emotional and intellectual development, and are less likely to graduate from high school. Poor children are more likely to become poor parents. Every year we let children live in poverty, it costs our nation half a trillion dollars in lost productivity and increased health and crime costs.

Our vision is to end child poverty. We must ensure all parents and caregivers have the resources to support and nurture their children: jobs with livable wages, affordable high-quality child care, supports for working families like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and safety nets for basic needs like nutrition and housing assistance. We must also ensure every child in our rich nation has access to high-quality early childhood development and learning, comprehensive health coverage and care, and quality K-12 education so all children can reach their full potential.

Our new report Ending Child Poverty Now shows how we can shrink overall child poverty by 60 percent, Black child poverty by 72 percent, rural child poverty by 68 percent, and improve the economic circumstances of 97 percent of poor children simply by investing more in programs that work like the EITC, SNAP, housing subsidies, subsidized jobs, the Child Tax Credit, child care subsidies and others. Read the report and spread the word about its important findings. You can also sign up here to receive updates on how you can support our campaign to end child poverty now.

What's New

How we could cut child poverty by 60 percent right now

CDF’s new report Ending Child Poverty Now shows for the first time how we can shrink overall child poverty by 60 percent, Black child poverty by 72 percent, rural child poverty by 68 percent and improve the economic circumstances of 97 percent of poor children, by investing more in programs that work. Read the report and spread the word about its important findings. You can also sign up here to receive updates on how you can support our campaign to end child poverty now.

Investments in America’s children reduce child poverty.

Federal safety net programs kept 8.2 million children out of poverty in 2013, cutting child poverty by 40 percent. Read more about how these investments help protect children from poverty.

New data on child poverty show children remain the poorest age group.

While child poverty dropped from 2012 to 2013 for the first time since 2000, nearly one in five children – 14.7 million 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. Read more here.

In 42 states child poverty remains higher 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.

New Annie E. Casey report on two-generation strategies

Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach describes a new approach to reducing poverty, which calls for connecting low-income families with early childhood education, job training and other tools to achieve financial stability and break the cycle of poverty — and recommends ways to help equip parents and children with what they need to thrive.

New Center for American Progress report on eliminating barriers to economic security for people with criminal records

One Strike and You’re Out looks at how a criminal record can present a lifelong obstacle to employment, housing, public assistance, education, and family reunification and provides recommendations for how to eliminate those barriers and ensure Americans with criminal records have a fair shot at a decent life.

Child Poverty Data and Resources

NCH Invited Written Testimony Marian Wright Edelman

August 26, 2015

Ending Child Poverty Brief July 2015

Too many U.S. children have to face challenges like hunger, homelessness, instability and toxic stress. Every fifth U.S. child lives below the poverty line — in families trying to make do on less than $8 a person a day before most government safety net supports are counted. Even after government benefits, the U.S. has the second highest child poverty rate among 35 advanced economies.

July 29, 2015

FY2016 House and Senate Budget Fact Sheet

April 9, 2015

Reducing Child Poverty in the US: Costs and Impacts of Policies Proposed by the Children’s Defense Fund

Reducing Child Poverty in the US: Costs and Impacts of Policies Proposed by the Children’s Defense Fund Linda Giannarelli, Kye Lippold, Sarah Minton, and Laura Wheaton

January 12, 2015

Ending Child Poverty Now

For the first time, this report shows that by investing an additional 2 percent of the federal budget into existing programs and policies that increase employment, make work pay, and ensure children’s basic needs are met, the nation could reduce child poverty by 60 percent and lift 6.6 million children out of poverty.

January 9, 2015

State Poverty Data

2013 Child Poverty in the States by Age and Race/Ethnicity

September 30, 2014

Child Poverty In America 2013: State Analysis

State data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 18, 2014 reveal that child poverty remains at record high levels in the states, and that the highest rates are for children of color and young children.

September 30, 2014

Child Poverty In America 2013: State Analysis

State data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 18, 2014 reveal that child poverty remains at record high levels in the states, and that the highest rates are for children of color and young children.

September 30, 2014

Child Poverty In America 2013 Fact Sheet

Poverty data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 16, 2014revealthat child poverty dropped significantly for the first time since 2000, from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013.While child poverty decreased for Hispanic, White and Asian children, Black children saw no decrease and continue to have the highest child poverty rate. Despite some decreases child poverty among all children remains at shamefully high levels.

September 17, 2014

Summary of Ryan Poverty Plan 3

On Thursday July 24th, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan released a plan to address poverty in a report titled “Expanding Opportunity in America– A Discussion Draft from the House Budget Committee.” While the report includes a few recommendations that would likely benefit poor children, namely an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults and criminal justice reforms, the reports proposals for safety net and education programs would likely harm poor children.

July 31, 2014

Marian Wright Edelman on Child Poverty

Child Watch® Columns

Child Watch® Column (9/19/14): "The High Moral and Economic Cost of Child Poverty in America"

Just released U.S. Census Bureau data reveals 45.3 million people were poor in America in 2013. One in three of those who are poor is a child. Children remain our poorest age group and children of color and those under five are the poorest. More than one in five infants, toddlers, and preschoolers were poor during their years of greatest brain development and vulnerability.

Child Watch® Column (9/12/14): “Helping Children in Hidden Rural Poverty"

When many people hear child poverty in America the first stereotype is an inner city child and discussions about solutions to poverty often focus on concentrated poverty in urban areas. But in a nation where over 16 million children, more than one in five, are poor, the plain truth is that child

Child Watch® Column (10/24/14): "The Real Monsters"

Sadly, too many children do not have normal or safe or protected lives and their monsters are real. They do not have closets in many homeless shelters or on the streets or church steps where they sometimes live with homeless parents. They are not safe in drug and violence infested neighborhoods and suffer chronic hunger especially on weekends and during long summer months when school is out.

Statements

Marian Wright Edelman Responds to New Poverty Numbers (9/16/14)
Child Poverty in the States Still Record High Levels (9/18/14)

Testimony

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.

Faces of Child Poverty

All too often, when we talk about poverty in abstract terms, we fail to appreciate the impact of poverty on real children’s lives. The following portraits from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Cass remind us that there is no one face of child poverty, but that in every case, poverty takes a toll that no child should have to bear. The stories chronicle the daily struggles to provide children with food and shelter, health care and educational support, and find stable employment paying a livable wage in one of the richest countries on earth. Read their stories.

Read more about what it’s really like to grow up in poverty in CDF’s 2010 report Held Captive: Child Poverty in America, an account of the harm poverty inflicts on children in Quitman County, Miss., Katrina-displaced children in Baton Rouge, La., and children of the newly poor in Long Island, N.Y.

How to End Child Poverty

To end child poverty we must ensure all parents and caregivers have the resources to support and nurture their children: jobs with livable wages, affordable high-quality child care so that caregivers can work, supports for working families like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and safety nets supports like TANF, nutrition, and housing assistance to make sure children’s basic needs are met.

NEW! Read about how the nation could cut child poverty by 60 percent just by investing more in programs and policies that work. The Children’s Defense Fund’s new report Ending Child Poverty Now shows that contrary to what some believe, we do not have to accept having the second highest child poverty rate among advanced economies. For the first time this report shows how we can shrink overall child poverty by 60 percent, Black child poverty by 72 percent, rural child poverty by 68 percent, and improve the economic circumstances of 97 percent of poor children simply by investing more in programs that work like the EITC, SNAP, housing subsidies, subsidized jobs, the Child Tax Credit, child care subsidies and others. Read the report and spread the word about its important findings. You can also sign up here to receive updates on how you can support our campaign to end child poverty now.

To help today’s poor children succeed in adulthood and reach their full potential we must also ensure every child in our rich nation has access to high-quality early childhood development and learning, comprehensive health coverage and care, and quality K-12 education. Finally we must replace the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® with a pathway to college and career.”

Legislative Priorities

Extension of the ARRA improvements to the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are two of the most effective anti-poverty tools for working families with children. In 2009, as part of the stimulus bill, the two credits were modified to increase their impact for lower income families, married families, and families with three or more children. These improvements are slated to expire at the end of 2017, and if the do, an estimated 1 million children would fall into poverty and 7 million poor children would fall deeper into poverty. Approximately 50 million Americans with modest incomes — including 31 million children — would lose part or all of their Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. Families raising children on minimum-wage earnings would be particularly hard hit.  A single mother raising two children on full-time, minimum-wage earnings of $14,500 would lose her entire child tax credit of $1,725 – worth more than 10 percent of her earnings.

CDF urges lawmakers to permanently extend the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit improvements so that children in low-income working families can continue to benefit from the extra boost these improvements provide.

Raising the minimum wage to $10.10

A parent with two children working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour currently earns $4,700 below the poverty level. Nearly 70 percent of the 14.7 million poor children in America live with an adult who works, and 30 percent live with an adult who works full-time year-round. It is way past time we increase the minimum wage. The current federal minimum wage is worth 32 percent less in inflation-adjusted terms than it was at its peak in 1968. If it had grown at the same rate as productivity, the minimum wage would be $18.30 today.

CDF urges lawmakers to raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour so no one working full-time earns below poverty wages.

CDF Publications

Ending Child Poverty Now shows for the first time how we can shrink overall child poverty by 60 percent, Black child poverty by 72 percent, rural child poverty by 68 percent and improve the economic circumstances of 97 percent of poor children, at a cost of just 2 percent of the federal budget. Read the report and spread the word about its important findings. You can also sign up here to receive updates on how you can support our campaign to end child poverty now.

NCH Invited Written Testimony Marian Wright Edelman

August 26, 2015

Ending Child Poverty Brief July 2015

Too many U.S. children have to face challenges like hunger, homelessness, instability and toxic stress. Every fifth U.S. child lives below the poverty line — in families trying to make do on less than $8 a person a day before most government safety net supports are counted. Even after government benefits, the U.S. has the second highest child poverty rate among 35 advanced economies.

July 29, 2015

FY2016 House and Senate Budget Fact Sheet

April 9, 2015

Reducing Child Poverty in the US: Costs and Impacts of Policies Proposed by the Children’s Defense Fund

Reducing Child Poverty in the US: Costs and Impacts of Policies Proposed by the Children’s Defense Fund Linda Giannarelli, Kye Lippold, Sarah Minton, and Laura Wheaton

January 12, 2015

Ending Child Poverty Now

For the first time, this report shows that by investing an additional 2 percent of the federal budget into existing programs and policies that increase employment, make work pay, and ensure children’s basic needs are met, the nation could reduce child poverty by 60 percent and lift 6.6 million children out of poverty.

January 9, 2015

State Poverty Data

2013 Child Poverty in the States by Age and Race/Ethnicity

September 30, 2014

Child Poverty In America 2013: State Analysis

State data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 18, 2014 reveal that child poverty remains at record high levels in the states, and that the highest rates are for children of color and young children.

September 30, 2014

Child Poverty In America 2013: State Analysis

State data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 18, 2014 reveal that child poverty remains at record high levels in the states, and that the highest rates are for children of color and young children.

September 30, 2014

Child Poverty In America 2013 Fact Sheet

Poverty data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 16, 2014revealthat child poverty dropped significantly for the first time since 2000, from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013.While child poverty decreased for Hispanic, White and Asian children, Black children saw no decrease and continue to have the highest child poverty rate. Despite some decreases child poverty among all children remains at shamefully high levels.

September 17, 2014

Summary of Ryan Poverty Plan 3

On Thursday July 24th, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan released a plan to address poverty in a report titled “Expanding Opportunity in America– A Discussion Draft from the House Budget Committee.” While the report includes a few recommendations that would likely benefit poor children, namely an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults and criminal justice reforms, the reports proposals for safety net and education programs would likely harm poor children.

July 31, 2014

Summary of Ryan Poverty Plan 2

On Thursday July 24th, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan released a plan to address poverty in a report titled “Expanding Opportunity in America– A Discussion Draft from the House Budget Committee.” While the report includes a few recommendations that would likely benefit poor children, namely an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults and criminal justice reforms, the reports proposals for safety net and education programs would likely harm poor children.

July 31, 2014

Summary of Ryan Poverty Plan

On Thursday July 24th, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan released a plan to address poverty in a report titled “Expanding Opportunity in America– A Discussion Draft from the House Budget Committee.” While the report includes a few recommendations that would likely benefit poor children, namely an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults and criminal justice reforms, the reports proposals for safety net and education programs would likely harm poor children.

July 31, 2014

"A Progress Report on the War on Poverty: Lessons from the Frontlines”

Testimony of Marian Wright Edelman during a Hearing before the Committee on the Budget U.S. House of Representatives, "A Progress Report on the War on Poverty: Lessons from the Frontlines”

April 30, 2014

2014 SOAC_child poverty.pdf

Despite great wealth, the U.S. has one of the highest rates of child poverty among industrialized countries. Poverty impairs all aspects of a child’s development and can have lifelong detrimental consequences. Poor children are more likely to go hungry and are less likely to be read to during their early years.

January 28, 2014

The State of America's Children 2014

The State of America's Children 2014

January 23, 2014

Child Poverty in America 2012

This fact sheet highlights the new poverty data released by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2012. The number of children in poverty is 16.1 million, essentially unchanged from 2011. Children remain the poorest age group with over one in five children living in poverty in America.

September 19, 2013

2011 Child Poverty in the States

The U.S. Census Bureau released new poverty data for the states that show families still struggling in the wake of the Great Recession. There were statistically significant increases in the rates of child poverty between 2010 and 2011 in 14 states, and slight increases in 26 others. Only nine states and the District of Columbia saw some small decline in their rates of children living in poverty in 2011. In South Dakota, the rate did not change.

September 21, 2012

2011 Child Poverty in America

Poverty data released by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that child poverty remained at record high levels in 2011. More than one in five children in America – 16.1 million – were poor in 2011. After nearly a million children fell into poverty in 2010, there was a slight decline of 152,000 poor children between 2010 and 2011, and neither the poverty rate nor the number of poor children was statistically different from 2010.

September 21, 2012

Child Poverty in America 2010 Fact sheet

Poverty data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2010 showed that over one in five children in America lived in poverty. The number of children in poverty increased by 950,000 between 2009 and 2010, rising from 15.5 million to 16.4 million.

October 11, 2011

child poverty fact sheets 2010 age

Child Poverty, by Age, 2010

September 29, 2011

More Ending Child Poverty Data