The official child poverty rate in the United States stands at 20 percent, the second-highest among its developed counterparts, for a total of almost 15 million children. Since the 2008 recession, 1.7 million more kids have fallen into poverty, according to UNICEF’s relative measure of poverty.
Compared to other age groups, a much higher share of Americans aged 0 to 18 are impoverished.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Why are we allowing so many Americans to start their lives in poverty, knowing that it likely will do them significant long-term damage, as well as limit our growth as a nation? It is a blow to our nation’s dedication to equal opportunity.
That question is especially perplexing because relatively simple, proven approaches would address some of the worst impacts of child poverty. What follows are seven lessons drawn from The Century Foundation’s Bernard L Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative conference last June, Inequality Begins at Birth, that would help us tackle gaps in our public policy, as part of the Initiative’s equal opportunity agenda. The lessons are as follows:
1. The Stress of Childhood Poverty Is Costly for the Brain and Bank Accounts
2. Child Poverty Is Not Distributed Equally
3. The Power of Parental Education
4. Higher Minimum Wage Is a Minimum Requirement
5. Workplaces Need to Recognize Parenthood
6. Government Works
7. Cash Allowances Are Effective
Seven Lessons about Child Poverty