Congress is Taking Action to Ensure We Cut Child Poverty in Half

Poverty & Family Economics

Photo by Stanley Morales from Pexels

House and Senate Democrats are poised to re-introduce the Child Poverty Reduction Act tomorrow. Led by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), the bill would establish a national target to reduce the number of children living in poverty in the U.S. by one-half in 10 years. With all of the action taken recently on reducing child poverty, this bill will hold our leaders accountable to action.

No child in the world’s wealthiest nation should go to bed hungry or be deprived of clean air or be without the opportunities that come from having a safe, affordable place to call home.

Yet even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 health emergency, child poverty was a moral crisis in the United States that affected each and every one of us. Our child poverty rate remains consistently higher than that of our peer countries, and children in the United States continue to experience poverty at a rate 54 percent higher than adults. Due to our country’s long history of systemic racism and discrimination, poverty rates for children of color are nearly three times that of white children. Annual child poverty figures from the U.S. Census Bureau underestimate the problem: Families with children living at twice the official poverty threshold still lack enough income to make ends meet.

Growing up in poverty has life-long consequences for a child’s physical and mental health and economic well-being. In addition to negative consequences for individual children, child poverty has serious economic implications, costing our country approximately $1 trillion a year. A 2019 landmark study from the nonpartisan National Academy of Sciences confirmed that we know how to reduce child poverty in the United States, we just lack the political will to do it. Written by our nation’s leading experts on child poverty, A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty models a set of policy and program changes that, if implemented, would cut our child poverty rate in half within a decade.

Passing the Child Poverty Reduction Act is critical to sustaining and improving upon any progress made on child poverty in 2021 through President Biden’s COVID-19 relief package. By codifying a national child poverty target and tasking the National Academy of Sciences with analyzing and monitoring progress towards that goal, this legislation will ensure that we continue to build the political will and have the research necessary to make progress on child poverty reduction beyond emergency relief efforts.

Other provisions of the Child Poverty Reduction Act include:

  • Requiring the U.S. Census Bureau to develop an anchored Supplemental Poverty Measure to use to annually track progress on child poverty that includes data on children in the U.S. territories;
  • Directing the National Academy of Sciences to establish a Child Poverty Reduction Strategy Clearinghouse;
  • Mandating the National Academy of Sciences to update A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty within three years;
  • Directing the National Academy of Sciences to publish a new consensus study on policies to reduce long-term, intergenerational child poverty.
  • The future of our nation depends on the well-being and success of our children.