Focusing on Kids’ Challenges – First Up: Child Poverty

Did You Know?

  • US poverty (less than $22,300 for a family of four): 46.2 million, 15.1 percent

  • Kids in poverty: 16.4 million, 22 percent of all kids

  • Poverty rate for people in single mother families: 42 percent

  • Increase in number of Americans in poverty, 2006-2010: 27 percent

  • Increase in US population, 2006-2010: 3.3 percent

During this election season, we want to dig a little deeper into the challenges kids face in this country along with the programs created to combat them. We’ll bust some popular myths too and let you know what candidates and elected officials are saying (if anything) on the topic. Finally, we’ll provide information about any pending legislation, and, of course, ask for your feedback.

Our first blogger is MaryLou Beaver, Director of Every Child Matters in New Hampshire and Maine. MaryLou is starting off our series with a focus on child poverty.

Last week, Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity hosted a forum and audio call examining how the struggles facing growing numbers of low-income families will affect the 2012 elections.

One of the panelists, Republican pollster Jim McLaughlin, said 88 percent of voters view a candidate’s position on equal opportunity for children of all races as important in deciding their vote for president. This is similar to results an Every Child Matters poll showed last October.

In the ECM poll of 600 New Hampshire residents – a combination of general election swing voters and likely Republican primary voters, find issues of child well‐being important to them – 87% of likely voters, 91% of general election swing voters, and 77% of likely Republican primary voters say children’s issues will play a significant role when they vote.

Blogger Greg Kaufmann writing in the Nation had this to say about those high numbers that Jim McLaughlin quoted, “I wish I shared his confidence. I think if that commitment were truly a strong one, we would be doing much more to help the 22 percent of American children and their families—disproportionately people of color—get out of poverty.”

Kaufmann goes on to say, “Yet  too many politicians and citizens still seize on President Reagan’s old line—‘We fought a war against poverty, and poverty won’—as a reason not to make substantial investments in children and families. The data, however, suggest that this take on anti-poverty legislation is a myth.

From 1964 to 1973 we reduced poverty by 43 percent in this country. More recently, six initiatives in the Recovery Act kept nearly 7 million Americans from falling into poverty. Saying we failed simply because there is still poverty is like saying clean air and clean water laws failed because there is still pollution.

Over the next month, Every Child Matters will be focusing on the issue of child poverty and take a look at the programs that are currently in place to reduce poverty and those that help prevent more families from falling into poverty.

To learn more about the effects of poverty on our nation’s children, click here.