Child Poverty

Children’s Defense Fund Statement on 2024 State of the Union

Last night, President Biden presented a vision for building a nation where all children can thrive, from crucial interventions to provide children and youth with high-quality early learning experiences to economic and community interventions that create conditions for young people to grow up with dignity, hope, and joy.  

President Biden echoed the urgency for access to high-quality child care that our CDF Freedom Schools® families regularly share. CDF’s State of America’s Children 2023 revealed that more than half of families live in areas without an adequate supply of child care and that child care costs single parents more than one-third of their salaries. Yet childcare providers earn less than half of a living wage in all 50 states and D.C. These data demonstrate the severity of the childcare crisis in families, not just by obstructing parents’ ability to work but also by denying young children high-quality experiences that contribute to a full, joyful childhood. That orientation extends to the president’s call for universal pre-K education. 

Child care and educational experiences are most effective when shared in the context of economically stable families. Family stability results from a just economy that provides for affordable housing—the current lack thereof has a massive racial disparity, with three in four children experiencing houselessness being Black or Brown.  The president reminded Congress that they can advance economic justice almost immediately through an expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC). The impact of the pandemic-era CTC is indisputable: It cut child poverty in half and helped sustain millions of families through one of our nation’s most challenging episodes. This crucial support for families should never have expired, and the Senate is positioned to roll back that error in part with the passage of the current tax package. 

And yet, even with those provisions in place, it’s difficult for children to live joyfully while also living with the persistent threat of gun violence. The regular cadence of gun violence and mass shootings, so common that only the most egregious events make headlines, denies children any safe haven—not their neighborhoods, not their schools, not their places of worship. Gun violence ends the lives of 5 in every 100,000 children, with Black children suffering this violence at a rate six times greater than their White peers.  President Biden’s renewed call for a ban on assault weapons restores a movement for the safe environments young people deserve. 

Children’s Defense Fund stands ready to work with the Biden administration and our allies in Congress to advance this vision of communities wielding the power to ensure all young people thrive. 

Children’s Defense Fund