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Almost Half of Young Children in the United States Live in Poverty or Near Poverty, With Infants and Toddlers at Greatest Risk

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are introducing The Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2020, which would set a national goal of reducing child poverty by half in 10 years and require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Census Bureau to report annually on child poverty. In 2018, nearly 1 in 6 children, or 11.9 million children, were living in poverty. U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis (D-IL-7) is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Every child in America should have the opportunity to be economically secure,” said Senator Casey. “More than 15 percent of children in Pennsylvania grow up in poverty. This is unacceptable. The Child Poverty Reduction Act makes a commitment to cut child poverty in half over the next decade. Economic stability and security for children and their families are the best predictors of a child’s wellbeing. We must ensure every child has the opportunity to grow and flourish and every child in America should have the freedom to reach her or his full potential.”

“There are far too many children living in poverty both in Wisconsin and across our country. We must act now,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m leading this legislation with Senators Casey and Brown to take action and meet the challenge of better understanding and ending child poverty, so we can build healthier, stronger families and communities.”

“No child in America should have to grow up in poverty, period,” said Senator Brown. “Whether they’re raised in families that are working harder than ever with less and less to show for it, or in overwhelmed and under-funded foster care programs, far too many children are brought up with the odds stacked against them. And systemic racism often reinforces cycles of poverty for Black and Brown children. This legislation is an important step toward ensuring that federal policies and programs actually work to reduce child poverty and promote the health, safety, and economic security for all children.”

“Child poverty underlies a persistent tangle of inequities in our society. Children who grow up poor end up earning less than other children; they suffer significantly greater health risks, encounter more trauma and social conflict and face greater barriers in education in proportion to the number of years they live in poverty.  We need the tools to measure and understand the links behind childhood poverty and long-term outlooks for child development. I am pleased to work with Senator Casey on this legislation that will provide the non-partisan, scientific basis for shaping evidence-based programs and policies to level the playing field for all our children,” said Representative Davis.

Child poverty not only affects individual children, but also has broader societal effects, including higher spending on health care, increased rates of crime, reduced rates of education attainment and higher spending on remedial education. In February, Senator Casey introduced a comprehensive legislative agenda, the Five Freedoms America’s Children. This agenda lays out a roadmap identifying five basic freedoms our society must guarantee to the Nation’s children—the Freedom to be Healthy, the Freedom to be Economically Secure, the Freedom to Learn, the Freedom from Hunger and the Freedom to be Safe from Harm. Among the policy recommendations in the agenda, Senator Casey proposed expanding the Child Tax Credit and allowing parents to claim it monthly, as well as the creation of children’s saving accounts, seeded annually with $500 in government contributions, which children can later use in pursuit of a post-secondary education, home ownership or a business enterprise.

Read more about The Child Poverty Reduction Act of 2020 here.


Related Issues

  1. Children & Families