One In Five Young Children Lives In Poverty
Aug 29, 2007
Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced new data on household income, poverty, and health insurance coverage. The good news is that the number of people living in official poverty decreased slightly (from 12.6 percent to 12.3 percent) for the first time this decade, while real median income increased for the second year. But, that's still 36.5 million poor people! Despite this small decline from last year, the poverty rate remains higher than it was in 2000.
Young children are the most likely to live in poverty. Twenty percent of children under 6 live in poor families. That's 4.8 million young children! (An even greater number of children are living in low-income families above the official poverty thresholds, which does not include expensive household budget items including child care and housing.) The big story in yesterday's number of uninsured continued to climb. Eleven percent of children under 6 are without health insurance coverage.
These numbers tell a clear story. America's poor and low-income families need help meeting their basic needs. We know that low-income children face a number of risk factors during early childhood that threaten healthy development and learning. These children need access to high-quality early care and education, that includes a range of comprehensive health services and family supports, and their parents need access to affordable, quality child care in order to work and support their families. With the costs of child care ranging from $3,016-$9,628 a year for a 4-year-old, and even higher for infants and toddlers, a family earning below $17,170 (the 2007 poverty level for a family of three) may pay 18-56 percent of their household income to afford licensed child care. This is why expanding the availability of high-quality early care and education is one important component of reducing poverty and improving child well-being and why it's critical to increase national and state funding for child care.