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Tackling Child Poverty in the U.S: Lessons from the U.K.

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Washington Monthly

Increasing financial support for children and their families should be the starting point.

By Lara Burt

7/28/16

In 1999, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged to eliminate child poverty. This was a lofty goal, but not an empty promise. Over the next decade the U.K. reduced child poverty by more than half, improving the lives of millions. In sharp contrast, the U.S. child poverty rate grew over this same time period, reaching a 20-year high in 2011. While there is a lot of criticism and confusion around Britain’s recent decisions with Brexit and implications for the country’s future, there is a lot that America has to learn from Britain when it comes to addressing child poverty.

The number of children in the U.S. living in poverty is devastating. According to 2014 Census Bureau data, almost 16 million children in the United States – 22 percent of all children – lived in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. That’s $24,008 per year for a family of four.  As I mentioned in a recent post on the findings from 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book, this disadvantage has lifelong consequences for the education, income, health, and well-being of children.

What’s more is that recent data from First Focus’ Children’s Budget 2016 shows that …

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