The State of America’s Children 2020
CHILD POPULATION: America’s children are more diverse than ever.
- There were 73.4 million children in the U.S. in 2018—22 percent of our nation’s population.
- In 2018, children of color made up 49.7 percent of all children and the majority of children under 5.
CHILD POVERTY: Children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color
and young children suffering the highest poverty rates.
- Nearly 1 in 6 children—more than 11.9 million—were poor in 2018. Nearly 73 percent of poor children were children of color. Nearly 1 in 3 Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children and about 1 in 4 Hispanic children were poor compared with 1 in 11 white children.
- The youngest children are the poorest. More than 1 in 6 children under 6 were poor and almost half lived in extreme poverty below half the poverty line.
INCOME AND WEALTH INEQUALITY: Income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.
- Income growth for the wealthiest few has far outpaced growth for everyone else. Since 1980, incomes for the top 1 percent of earners have grown by 226 percent compared with only 47 percent for the middle 60 percent of earners.
- Wealth inequality has reached levels not seen since the late 1800s. The top 1 percent of Americans held 39 percent of all wealth in the U.S. in 2016.
In 2017, the median family income of white households with children ($88,200) was more than double that of Black ($40,100) and Hispanic households with children ($46,400).
HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: The lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- Nearly 6 million children live in low-income families that spend more than half their income on rent and get no rental assistance from the government. Only 1 in 4 eligible households receive federal housing aid.
- Children comprised 1 in 5 of the nearly 553,000 homeless people living in shelters, transitional housing and on the streets on a single night in January 2018.
- Nearly 1.4 million homeless children were enrolled in public schools during the 2016-2017 school year—double the number at the start of the Great Recession.
CHILD HUNGER AND NUTRITION: Millions of children live in food-insecure households,
lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food.
- More than 1 in 6 children—12.5 million—lived in food-insecure households in 2017. The percent of Black and Hispanic households with food-insecure children was nearly two times that of white households.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, helped feed 17 million children in 2018. With SNAP benefits averaging only $1.29 a person per meal, however, nearly half of all households receiving SNAP were still food-insecure.
CHILD HEALTH: After decades of progress, children’s health coverage is sliding perilously backwards.
- 2017 and 2018 marked the first increases in the number of uninsured children in the U.S. in a decade.
- An estimated 4.3 million children under 19 were uninsured in 2018—425,000 more than the previous year.
- Nearly 37 million children under 19 received comprehensive, pediatric-appropriate and affordable health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP in 2018, but child enrollment in these programs decreased by over 828,000 between 2017 and 2018.
EARLY CHILDHOOD: The high cost of child care and lack of early childhood investments leaves many children without quality care during critical years of brain development.
- Center-based infant care cost more than public college tuition in 30 states and the District of Columbia in 2018, yet the number of children receiving child care subsidies has decreased by more than 430,000 since 2006.
- In 2018, Early Head Start served only 8 percent of eligible infants and toddlers and Head Start served only 50 percent of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds.
EDUCATION: America’s schools have slipped backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.
- The number of students attending schools in which at least 75 percent of children are both low-income and Black or Hispanic more than doubled between the 2000-2001 and 2013-2014 school years.
- Trapped in inequitable schools, low-income, Black and Hispanic students suffer academically. More than 74 percent of low-income, 75 percent of Hispanic and 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019.
- Less than 81 percent of Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native public school students graduated on time during the 2016-2017 school year compared with 89 percent of white students.
CHILD WELFARE: Hundreds of thousands of children are abused or neglected and in foster care, with young children disproportionately affected.
- More than 673,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2018. More than half of all child maltreatment cases involved children under 7.
- In 2018, 435,052 children were in foster care; 41 percent were children under 6.
YOUTH JUSTICE: A disproportionate number of children of color are incarcerated in the
juvenile justice and/or adult criminal justice systems, placing them at risk of physical and psychological harm.
- Despite a 63 percent reduction in child arrests since 2009, a child or teen was arrested every 43 seconds in 2018. Children of color were nearly two times more likely to be arrested than white children.
- On an average night in 2017, 43,580 children were held in juvenile residential placement; 67 percent were Black or Hispanic. Another 935 children were incarcerated in adult prisons.
GUN VIOLENCE: America’s gun violence epidemic is killing more children, more often.
- In 2017, 3,410 children and teens were killed with guns in America—the greatest number since 1998.
- Gun violence remains the second leading cause of death for children and teens ages 1-19 and the leading cause for Black children and teens. Black children and teens were 4 times more likely to be killed or injured with a gun than their white peers.
- U.S. children and teens are 15 times more likely to die from gunfire than their peers in 31 other high-income countries combined.