|For Immediate Release
January 23, 2014For More Information Contact:
Marian Wright Edelman Calls on the President to End Child Poverty
Washington, DC, Jan. 23, 2014 – Today the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) released a new report, The State of America’s Children 2014, showing for the first time the majority of children in America under two are now children of color. One in three of them is poor. The youngest most vulnerable children of all races and ethnicities are the poorest age group. Over 1 in 4 infants, toddlers and preschoolers — nearly 5 million — are poor during the years of rapid brain development. CDF’s report offers a deeply disturbing account of where all children stand — detailing the preventable poverty, hunger, homelessness, sickness, poor education and violence faced by America’s children who will determine America’s future. This year’s report provides a 50 year snapshot of changes in child well-being since the War on Poverty was launched.
“It is disgraceful that fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty, millions of children in America, especially young children and children of color, still live on the outskirts of hope. I call on President Obama and America’s political leaders in every party at every level to mount a long overdue, unwavering, and persistent war to prevent and eliminate child poverty and finish the task President Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King began. Two- and three-year-olds have no politics and we must reject any leaders who for any reason play political football with the lives of millions of our children and our nation’s future. If America is to lead in the 21st century world, we must reset our economic and moral compass. This is not a time for more rhetoric but for action to address the rampant child homelessness and hunger in our nation. Children are hungry now. They are homeless now. It is cold right now,” said Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Key findings include:
- Child poverty has reached record levels. Every fifth child — 16.1 million — is poor.
- Child poverty creates unacceptable child homelessness. Nearly 1.2 million public school students are homeless, 73 percent more than before the recession.
- Children are already suffering hunger over the weekends in households where they don’t have access to school breakfast and school lunch. More than 1 in 9 children lack access to adequate food, a rate 23 percent higher than before the recession. 1.2 million households with children had no cash income and depended only on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to stave off hunger.
- Working families are struggling. In no state can a person working full-time at minimum wage afford the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment and have enough money for food, utilities and other necessities. A person would need to work more than two-and-a-half full-time minimum-wage jobs to afford the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment.
- Black children are the poorest children. In six states — Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin — half or more Black children are poor and nearly half the states have Black child poverty rates of 40 percent or more.
- Children of color are the majority of all children in 10 states — Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas — and the District of Columbia.
- Income and wealth inequality are shockingly high. The average wealth of White households ($110,500) was 14 times that of Hispanic households ($7,683), and 17 times that of Black households ($6,314).
- Lack of investments robs children of critical supports in the early years. Less than half of 3- and 4-year olds are enrolled in preschool.
The report concludes that the country can ill afford not to invest in every child. “The first step to prevent and alleviate indefensible, costly and morally obscene child poverty is to build a quality early childhood continuum of care from birth through age 5 so that every child, regardless of the circumstances of birth or lottery of geography, is ready for school and has a fair chance to reach their God-given potential. We know if we properly support children in their early years of rapid brain development, not only will they benefit, but so will all America,” continued Edelman.
The State of America’s Children 2014 is a comprehensive Children’s Defense Fund annual report on the well-being of children using the latest data available. The report provides state-by-state data and data by race and ethnicity. Since children don’t come in pieces, the report addresses the whole child and contains data on child population, poverty, family structure and income, housing and homelessness, child nutrition and hunger, early childhood, education, child welfare, juvenile justice and gun violence.