Washington, D.C. — The United States consistently has the highest child poverty rate of any OECD country. Nearly 11 million—or 1 in 7—children in the United States live in poverty. And systemic inequalities stretching back before the country’s founding contribute to disproportionate rates of poverty for Black, Latinx, Asian American, and Native children. And while these data were calculated before the COVID-19 crisis, already some calculations have found a dramatic escalation in the child poverty rate since the onset of the pandemic.
In a new report, “The Basic Facts About Children in Poverty,” Areeba Haider presents a broad overview of the growing problem of child poverty in the United States, its structural causes, and solutions to fix it.
She finds that factors such as stagnant wages, labor market discrimination, and a lack of work-family policies to support caregivers are impoverishing children as well as adults. Without a proper social safety net or a guarantee from the government that every child’s basic needs will be met, common life events such as joblessness, single parenthood, illness, and more all lead to poverty for millions of families.
The report makes clear that while the reasons for America’s high child poverty rate are structural and long-lasting, child poverty is solvable. Some recommendations set forth in this report include:
- Securing the right to basic needs for all families with reforms to food assistance, housing supports, and health care programs
- Easing financial burdens through strengthened unemployment insurance, permanent paid family and medical leave, higher minimum wages, affordable child care and universal preschool, and better tax credits that cover all low-income families
- Prioritizing structural reforms that address generational poverty and historic marginalization with policies that target the racial wealth gap and inequitable school systems
“The economic well-being of a child is directly linked to that of their caregiver. No child—regardless of their caregivers’ paycheck—should experience poverty. Yet our inadequate social safety net has giant holes that exclude families with the lowest incomes and subject them to often unattainable work requirements,” said Haider, a research associate with the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress. “To address the solvable problem of child poverty, policymakers must focus on supporting children and their families by remedying failures in our economic system such as rising income inequality; strengthening the social safety net; and tackling the structural marginalization and discrimination for people of color that reaches every facet of American life.”
Read the report: “The Basic Facts About Children in Poverty” by Areeba Haider
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at gro.ssergorpnacirema@kcisucj.