Child Poverty


For Immediate Release
September 20, 2012


For More Information Contact:
Patti Hassler
Vice President of Communications and Outreach
202-662-3554 office


New Data Show Black and Hispanic Children Suffer Most

The U.S. Census Bureau’s new poverty data for the states show families still struggling in the wake of the Great Recession. Fourteen states saw statistically significant increases in their child poverty rates and 26 states saw small increases in child poverty rates. Nine states and the District of Columbia saw small declines in the rates of children living in poverty last year.

Black and Hispanic children suffer most. In 25 states and the District of Columbia, at least 40 percent of Black children were poor; and in four states, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, and Ohio, 50 percent or more of Black children were poor. Thirty-three percent or more of Hispanic children were poor in 32 states.

In 2011, more than one in five children were poor in over half the states and the nation’s capitol, and in half of these states more than one in four children were poor. Children are the poorest age group in America, and the younger they are the poorer they are. More than one in four children under 6 years old were poor in 21 states and the District of Columbia during their years of greatest brain development. In 30 states and the District of Columbia, 10 percent or more of infants, toddlers and kindergarteners lived in extreme poverty.

“These shameful child poverty levels call for urgent and persistent action and citizens must demand every political leader state what they will do now to invest in and protect vulnerable children and prepare them to be strong future workers and to eliminate epidemic child poverty and the hunger and homelessness it spawns,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. “Our leading economists agree, investing in our children today is the best way to prepare them to create a strong America tomorrow. Do Americans really want their children to get poorer while the rich get richer? We simply cannot allow our budget to be balanced on the backs of our poor babies, while the top millionaires and billionaires receive more tax cuts they do not need.”

The 13 states and the District of Columbia with child poverty rates 25 percent or higher are:

  • Mississippi 31.8%
  • New Mexico 30.7
  • District of Columbia 30.3
  • Louisiana 28.8
  • Arkansas 28.1
  • South Carolina 27.8
  • Alabama 27.6
  • Kentucky 27.4
  • Arizona 27.2
  • Texas 26.6
  • Georgia 26.3
  • Tennessee 26.3
  • West Virginia 25.8
  • North Carolina 25.6

The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.