Our future success as a nation depends on the degree to which we ensure that all of our children have the opportunity to thrive.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a non-profit child advocacy group, some child-related stats are improving. Below is a list of five areas that have improved:
Infant mortality rate,
The child death rate,
The teen death rate, and teen birth rate;
And the percent of teens not in school.
However, three very important categories have actually gotten much worse.
Those areas are:
The percent of babies born low-birthweight,
The child poverty rate,
and the percent of children living in single-parent families.
These last three trends are totally unacceptable! In 2009, 20 percent (one out of every five children) of US children, or about 14.7 million, were living in poverty. That’s up from 17 percent in 2000, and that translates to about 2.5 million more children living below the poverty level in 2009 than in 2000!
By comparison, during the period from 1994 to 2000, the child poverty rate fell by nearly 30 percent!
The latest “Kids Count” report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that child poverty grew in 38 of 50 US states over the past decade.
The report’s findings on child poverty presents a shocking picture of the health of our society as a whole. As the small percentage of rich get richer, the vast majority of poor is growing and the middle class is becoming extinct. Also, with the proposed state and federal budget cuts, the situation for America’s children and youth is projected to get even worse this coming year.
Furthermore, the methodology by which the government determines the poverty line is sadly in need of revamping. In the 1960s, the poverty level was close to 50% of the median income. In 2009, the poverty level was set at only 30% of median household income.
The Kid’s Count report points out that Families even with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of the poverty level still often have trouble with “missed rent payments, utility shutoffs, inadequate access to health care, unstable child care arrangements, and food insecurity.”
Children of low-income and poor families often are unable to meet their most basic needs! The stress and anxiety of not meeting their child’s needs can then increase the parental risk of depression, substance abuse, or domestic violence. This is especially sad when just a little caring and sharing might avert all of these problems!
The “Kids Count” report proposes several measures for reversing the growth of poverty among America’s children. However, the programs that they suggest for enhancement are generally the very programs that government seems determined to reduce.
You can follow the progress of this situation and find out how you can help by following them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/aecfkidscount and Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/KIDSCOUNT.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private charitable organization, whose primary mission is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.
The KIDS COUNT Data Book with state-by-state rankings and supplemental data launched on August 17, 2011, at http://datacenter.kidscount.org. Through the KIDS COUNT Data Center, users can download the complete Data Book, access hundreds of other measures of child well-being, and view real-time information on portable devices.