16 Million U.S. Children Live in Poverty, Says New Report

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New data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation reveals the number of children living in poverty increased by nearly a quarter from 2005 until 2011 in the United States, with an estimated 3 million children slipping into poverty during the timeframe. 

The Foundation states the number of children in households where 30 percent of income went towards housing costs jumped by 2 million over the six-year window. Additionally, the new report finds the total percentage of children living with parents who lacked full-time, all-year employment rose by 20 percent from 2008 until 2011.

In all, researchers estimate that more than 16 million children were living in poverty two years ago, with children under the age of 5 experiencing the greatest rates of poverty.

“The early years of their lives are a critical juncture in their development,” said Annie E. Casey Foundation CEO and President Patrick McCarthy in a recent press release. “As our economic recovery continues, we cannot lose sight of doing whatever it takes to help kids, particularly kids in low-income families, reach their full potential — and that includes laying a solid foundation from the moment they are born.”

The 2013 Kids COUNT Data Book, however, found some progress was made during the assessment period, particularly regarding educational obtainment and overall health quality in children, with the number of kids in the United State without health insurance shrinking by nearly a third.

During the six-year assessment period, researchers said the national teen birth rate plummeted by 15 percent, while the death rate for minors dropped by one-fifth. Additionally, the new data indicates that the percentage of youth that required more than four years to graduate high school also dipped during the timeframe, by nearly 20 percent.

Researchers also recorded math proficiency improvement in 46 states, with Massachusetts posting the highest overall levels, while Mississippi -- where only one out of five eighth graders posted proficient scores -- recorded the lowest.

“We need to do better and be smarter about investing in effective programs and services to help ensure all kids get the best possible start in life,” Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and data at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, stated. “The progress we’re seeing in child health and education is encouraging, but the economic data clearly speak to the considerable challenges we still face.”


Image credit: Courtesy of Annie E. Casey Foundation