The numbers are shocking. In the United States today, 14.7 million children, or 20 percent, are poor. Child poverty increased in 38 states from 2000 to 2009. That represents a 2.5 million increase from 2000, when 17 percent of the nation’s youth lived in low-income homes.
These are the findings in 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book. Produced annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, this study profiles the status of children on a national and state-by-state basis and ranks states on 10 measures of well-being.
Low-Income Children Suffer Academically, Economically And Socially
In the foundation’s first examination of the impact of the recession on the nation’s children, the researchers concluded that low-income children will likely suffer academically, economically and socially long after their parents have recovered.
From Education Week:
“People who grew up in a financially secure situation find it easier to succeed in life, they are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to graduate from college and these are things that will lead to greater success in life,” said Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “What we are looking at is a cohort of kids who as they become adults may be less able to contribute to the growth of the economy. It could go on for multiple generations.”
The survey concludes that children from low-income families are more likely to be raised in unstable environments and change schools than their wealthier peers. As a result, they are less likely to be gainfully employed as adults.
There are additional social costs: economically disadvantaged children can result in reduced economic output, higher health expenditures and increased criminal justice costs for society, according to the survey.
Recession Has Hit Children Hard
Here are a few details from the report. You can read the complete study at Kids Count Data Book.
* Over the last decade there has been a significant decline in economic well-being for low income children and families.
* Data also reveals the impact of the job and foreclosure crisis on children. In 2010, 11 percent of children had at least one unemployed parent and 4 percent have been affected by foreclosure since 2007.
* 68% of 4th graders scored below proficient on the National Assessment (NAEP) reading test in 2009.
* Nevada had the highest rate of children whose parents are unemployed or underemployed. The state is also home to the most children affected by foreclosures: 13 percent of kids in Nevada have been kicked out of their homes because of an unpaid mortgage.
* Overall, the percentage of children living in families in which no parent had full-time work increased from 27 percent in 2008 to 31 percent in 2009. Black children were nearly twice as likely as white children to have an unemployed parent.
* Mississippi was in overall last place in child welfare for the 10th consecutive year. The rankings are determined by 10 indicators that reflect child poverty, such as undernourished infants, infant mortality, teen births and children in single-parent families. The top state for children was New Hampshire, followed by Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont.
* In Mississippi, 31 percent of children were living in poverty, the highest rate in the U.S.
Need To Invest In The Success Of Our Children
These are depressing statistics. Yet again, it seems that this is a country where the rich get richer, and the poor just keep sliding downhill.
Is this what we want for the future of the U.S.? What kind of state, what kind of country can we expect to have if we are not investing in the success of our children? What do you think?
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